American immigration law reform is a step closer after a landmark vote to bolster security along the USA-Mexico border cleared a key procedural hurdle.
The vote is seen as a major boost for reform before the Senate is expected to give final approval to the bipartisan measure later this week according to the Washington Post.
The success of the bill has been hailed by Ciaran Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.
He said: “This is the first major hurdle negotiated and now it on to senate passage and then to the House.
“I am personally disappointed however that some senators from North-eastern states with large Irish American populations such as Senators Toomey and Portman from Pennsylvania and Ohio did not vote for the bill despite Irish lobbying. We hope they will vote for the final version however.”
The Post says 15 Republicans voted with 52 members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus in support of the plan, which calls for doubling the size of the U.S. Border Patrol to about 40,000 agents, the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border and the expanded use of radar and unmanned aerial drones.
The report also reveals that a block of conservative Republicans stood firm against the plan, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his deputy, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who had pushed for a stronger border security plan that was rejected last week.
Mark Daly, the Irish government’s Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora, has welcomed the vote on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Daly, a member of the Irish Senate, commented “This legislation is hugely important for the 50,000 Undocumented Irish currently in the United States as well as the future flow of Irish Citizens over to American.
“I recently spent 10 days on Capitol Hill with Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby of Immigration Reform meeting with members of the Senate and Congress from both parties.
“This Bill provides for the first time in years a real chance for the Undocumented to come out of the shadows and have a better way of life. What is needed now is for everybody both in Ireland and the US to use their contacts and get backing from the Senate and House for this Bill.”
Democrat Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key supporter of the immigration bill, said: “Monday’s vote shows that the pro-immigration forces on both sides of the aisle continue to make progress. We realize we have a long hard road ahead of us, but this vote puts the wind at our back.”
Several Republicans who voted no complained that the amendment doesn’t go far enough to bolster border security and that Senate Democrats rushed consideration of the proposal while blocking votes on other GOP proposals.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a vocal critic of the process, said: “What is the rush? Why are we proceeding gangbusters? Senators from both parties are seeking a fig leaf that would permit them to say they bolstered security along the border, when in fact this bill does not.”
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) said Monday that she supports the border security plan after the vote.
She told Fox News: “I think that what we’re seeing taking place in the Senate is a victory for Arizona. I’m glad that they finally decided to talk about the ‘border surge’ that we’ve called out for since 2010.”
However Brewer later clarified via Twitter that her support applied only to the border security amendment and not the overall bill. She has emerged as a conservative champion in recent years for critiquing the Obama administration’s handling of border security.
President Obama has sought to rally business leaders in support of the measure by meeting with a group of corporate and small-business executives.
He told reporters: “It’s not a bill that represents everything that I would like to see; it represents a compromise.
“If we get this done - when we get this done - I think every business leader here feels confident that they’ll be in a stronger position to continue to innovate, to continue to invest, to continue to create jobs, and ensure that this continues to be the land of opportunity for generations to come.”