The Common Good

Senate immigration bill passes; fate in House is uncertain

Date: July 5, 2013

The diverse coalition of faith, labor, business and civil rights activists who are trying to rework the nation's immigration system celebrated the June 27 Senate passage of a massive reform bill.

The bill moves to the House, where Speaker John Boehner has said he would not allow it on the floor unless a majority of Republicans support it, which they do not. Instead, the House is taking a piecemeal approach, with separate bills focusing first on border security.

In a 68-32 vote, the Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Competitiveness, and Immigration Modernization Act, which would massively ramp up enforcement on the southern border, adding 700 miles of fencing and doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, to the tune of $46.3 billion.

The bill also provides a path to legalization and ultimately citizenship for many of the nation's estimated 11 million immigrants who are here illegally. Other provisions would change the systems for family reunification immigration, for farm labor immigration and temporary workers; give young adults a quicker path to citizenship under the DREAM Act; and address problems with employer verification, immigrant detention and where enforcement raids are conducted.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, said the principles of the Senate bill "are drawn from the heart of the Gospel welcoming 'the stranger' as Jesus commands, protecting families as Christians must do, respecting the rule of law as Christians are biblically asked to do, and fixing and healing a broken immigration system that has shattered the lives of 11 million people, whom the Bible tells us to defend and serve."