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Congress Moves Forward on the Immigration Border Bill Debate

Congress is moving forward on a legislative solution to the immigration debate. The Republican-controlled Senate is on the verge of passing the most ambitious immigration reform bill in two decades.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The Republican-controlled Senate is on the verge of passing the most ambitious immigration reform bill in two decades, and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham said political urgency is the reason why.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), South Carolina: Much is at stake for our party. We have the White House; we have the Senate; and we have the House. If we can't solve this problem because it's politically too hard for us, people are going to turn to another group to solve this problem.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Both Republicans and Democrats agree there is a problem, and a majority of senators from both parties support the bill, which would strengthen border enforcement; create a new guest-worker program; and provide an eventual path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

    But throughout two weeks of debate, some members have tried to make major changes to the bill, changes supporters have warned would wreck the bipartisan coalition holding the bill together.

    One frequent target was the three-tiered approach to citizenship included in the bill. It allows for those here more than five years to enter immediately a legalization process that would require an estimated 11 years to obtain citizenship.

    Those in the country less than five years, but no more than two, would have to return to their native countries and re-enter through a guest-worker program before being able to apply for legal status.

    Those in the U.S. less than two years would be required to leave the country immediately.

    California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, however, urged colleagues to clear the way for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. before January 1st, assuming they met certain criteria.

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), California: I think it says to everybody: You have to earn this legalization. You have to get out there, and you have to work for at least six more years. You have to report in, but you have a card that identifies that you are in adjusted status. You are not subject to deportation.

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