The Senate approved a measure Thursday to make the most dramatic changes to immigration law in 25 years. It would give a path to citizenship to some 11 million undocumented immigrants, dramatically boost border security, and create a new work visa program for future immigrants. The measure passed with a bipartisan vote of 68-32, though a narrow majority of Senate Republicans opposed the legislation.
But the legislation faces an uncertain outcome in the House, where Republicans view the bill with outright hostility.
"I consider this an astounding success. An astounding success. You could ratify a treaty or override a veto. This is as good as it gets in the Senate," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the members of the "Gang of Eight" Republicans and Democrats that crafted the legislation.
"I thought we could probably get a majority at the beginning. I certainly didn't think we could get 68 votes. That's pretty impressive," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another leading Republican supporter.
The Senate's final vote, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats, was the result of dozens of lawmakers accepting things that they would normally reject for the sake of passing a comprehensive bill. Democrats still fret that the bill's massive influx of troops and drones on the border, requested by Republicans, will create militarized zones and hurt local communities. Republicans fear that the path to citizenship, requested by Democrats, will encourage more illegal immigration in the future.