The 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are one step closer to becoming citizens and achieving their dreams. On Thursday, June 27th, the Senate voted 68-32 in favor of a new bill that promises “earned citizenship,” as well as increased border security and more rigorous systems of immigration status check for employers.
Four Democratic and four Republican senators,“The Gang of Eight,” drafted the bill: Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, and Michael Bennet.
This issue hits close to home for Cuban-American Senator Rubio. He’s one of the leading immigrant voices in the Republican Party. After going through several difficulties while living in Cuba, his parents immigrated to the U.S. looking for new opportunities.
"For over 200 years now, they (immigrants) have come; in search of liberty and freedom, for sure. But often simply looking for jobs to feed their kids and the chance of a better life," stated Rubio, in his speech before the Senate.
So, what now? The Republican-led House is set to vote on the Senate bill. The House has also been working on its own set of immigration bills since late April. They include: Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, Legal Workforce Act, Agricultural Guestworker Act and the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas (SKILLS) Act.
- The SAFE Act would give the power to states to create and establish immigration laws as long as it complied with the Constitution. It would also make it a federal crime to overstay a visa and to stay in the country without authorization.
- The Legal Workforce Act would force employers to use a workplace verification system, E-Verify, to check employees’ legal status before they are hired.
- The Agricultural Guestworker Act would give farm workers a way to become legal and would provide future farm workers with a pathway to achieve legal status after working for certain years.
- The SKILLS Act would award more visas for workers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.