Senate speeds toward immigration bill passage

The Senate is headed for its final immigration votes, with the last filibuster test slated for noon Thursday — a vote all sides expect will signal easy passage by the end of the week — and lawmakers are facing furious last-minute lobbying from both sides.

The unions for both immigration agents and officers who handle legal immigration benefits called it an “anti-public safety bill and an anti-law enforcement bill,” saying it will actually cut down on interior enforcement, which all sides agree is critical to preventing a new wave of illegal immigration.


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“It provides legalization for thousands of dangerous criminals while making it more difficult for our officers to identify public safety and national security threats,” the two unions’ presidents said in a joint statement.

On the other side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it backs the bill and warned lawmakers it was grading them on their vote.

“The chamber believes this bill is a strong, positive step toward transforming America’s broken immigration system into one that drives job creation and economic growth by both better meeting the needs of employers, and better utilizing the unique talents of people here and abroad,” said R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs.

Most of the debate remains among the Republican side of the bill. Democratic support has been unanimous throughout.

Indeed, in previous test votes all of the chamber’s 54 Democrats have backed the bill — a stunning show of unity that contrasts with previous votes over the last decade, when Democrats were divided.

Meanwhile, the GOP appears to be growing more divided, with senators exchanging fierce barbs on the chamber floor.

After two and a half weeks of debate, the Senate bill remains largely intact and holds most of the support it began with, after a group of Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat most major changes.

But the bill’s future beyond the Senate is growing cloudy, with both Democrats and Republicans acknowledging the measure is flawed and asking the House to come back and fix things.

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