Two votes Tuesday to place the bill formally before the Senate and open for amendment each got more than 80 votes, but Republicans are insisting on tougher border security provisions and stricter terms on people seeking legal status.
President Obama is scheduled to appear Tuesday at the White House with a broad coalition of immigration supporters to tout the legislation, as senators from both parties prepare dozens of amendments in an effort to shape the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation.
Among them was an amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is described as "one of the fiercest critics of the bill," to expand a requirement that the government apprehend 90 percent of people attempting to cross the border illegally from just high-risk sectors to the entire Southwest border.
Democrats and the two Republicans on the committee who helped negotiate the bill hailed the results as evidence that they were committed to a bipartisan process to improve it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee starts considering on Thursday proposed amendments to the immigration bill, on topics ranging from border security and workplace enforcement to ways to make the legislation more welcoming to immigrant families.
A focus throughout the process — which is expected to last about two weeks — will be on whether the four committee members who are among the so-called Gang of Eight senators who authored the legislation can keep its core provisions intact.
The immigration debate is dividing Republicans in emotional ways not apparent in recent rifts over the budget and other top issues, says the Los Angeles Times.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says he'll chart a narrower path than in the Senate by introducing several small-scale immigration proposals that will begin months of negotiations on ideas from House members and groups.
Organizations and lawmakers on the right are vowing to draw out the debate and offer time for opposition to grow, says The Washington Post.
“This process can be long, but it allows every representative and senator to have their constituents’ voices heard,” says Goodlatte, a former immigration lawyer who opposes allowing a path to citizenship. “And by taking a fine-toothed comb through each of the individual issues within the larger immigration debate, it will help us get a better bill that will benefit Americans and provide a workable immigration system.”
Key players in the Senate immigration debate moved into damage-control mode Friday, trying to prevent the Boston attack from becoming a flashpoint in the debate on a bill that already faces an uphill battle in Congress, says Politico.
“I’d like to ask that all of us not jump to conclusions regarding the events in Boston, not conflate those events with this legislation,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the bipartisan group that put the bill together.
A spokesman for another member of the group, Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, released a statement saying: "Americans will reject any attempt to tie the losers responsible for the attacks in Boston with the millions of law-abiding immigrants currently living in the U.S. and those hoping to immigrate here in the future.”
The Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight is mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign to weaken the conservative opposition to the immigration overhaul, Politico says.
Hours after the bill was unveiled, Republicans began to make their pitch for it on conservative talk radio.
“Defining the bill quickly is good,”says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the group. “We’re going to be aggressive in marketing the bill. We’re going to be open minded about making it better. But this is an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
In an effort to get the votes of senators from Alaska and maybe North Dakota, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., seem willing to consider changing their deal so gun buyers would be exempt from background checks if they lived hundreds of miles from licensed firearms dealers, media are reporting.