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June 28, 2013

Senate Passes Landmark Bi-Partisan Immigration Bill

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Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill reforming America’s current immigration system, opening the possibility of a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives, where Republican leadership has said they will pass a different version of the bill.

A total of 68 yeas versus 32 nays was the final tally, approving the change to a system that had gone unamended in almost 30 years. Yet some Senate leaders realize the fight will continue as it moves to the House.

“This is an opportunity to do exactly what we did, affect the lives of millions, promote the security of the nation, create a more robust economy, reduce the debt of the country. That’s the opportunity before the House. I hope that they will take it.” said New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez.

In addition to the pathway to citizenship, the proposed bill would also increase security on the border by adding 20,000 new Border Patrol officers and building 700 miles of new fencing. The final bill and increased security will cost a total of $40 billion.

Those in the House of Representatives are still unsure about their next move. Speaker of the House John Boehner has stated that any bill should have the support of a majority in both parties.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill through regular order,” he said.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conceded that there must be a compromise, but warned Republicans that Democrats are “just not voting for anything.”


“What they have to do in the House first and foremost is come up with a plan on border security that is considered agreeable for most of the Republicans. And that would require strengthening, toughening what was passed in the Senate, and that might be a bridge too far for some senators of both parties who approved the bill on Thursday,” -Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post.

Warm-up questions

1. How does an immigrant become a U.S. citizen?

2. What does it mean to be a citizen?

3. What is an undocumented immigrant?

Discussion questions

1. Why are politicians tackling reform now?

2. Why does a bill approved by Senate still have to be approved by the House of Representatives?

3. What requirements should there be fore people who want to be U.S. citizens?

4. What are your thoughts on immigration reform? Should people who immigrate to the country illegally be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship? Why or why not?

5. What policy do you think the government should have towards children who were brought to the country illegally by their parents? Should it be different or the same as the policy towards those who immigrate as adults? Explain.

— Compiled by Becky Gaskill for NewsHour Extra

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