The Senate on Thursday passed the most monumental overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in a generation that would clear the way for millions of undocumented residents to have a chance at citizenship, attract workers from all over the world and devote unprecedented resources for security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The vote was 68-32. Fourteen Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with all Democrats in favor.
Thursdayâ€™s vote now puts the onus of immigration reform on the Republican-led House, where leaders have been resistant to the Senate legislation.
The bill was a product of not only weeks of floor debate and committee rewrites, but months of private negotiations by the so-called Gang of Eight â€” the group of four Democrats and four Republican â€” to produce legislation that would give the Senate a shot at passing immigration reform, something it was unable to do just six years ago.
Republicans, shellacked by Mitt Romneyâ€™s 44-point loss among Latinos in the 2012 presidential election, almost immediately coalesced behind immigration reform as a top priority. The Gang of Eight got together last fall and recruited veterans of the 2007 immigration battle such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), long-time champions of reform such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and high-wattage Senate newcomers, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
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