Immigration Reform Clears First Hurdle, Passes Senate Vote

Washington, D.C.Today is a critical day for immigration reform as the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill just passed its first hurdle, by getting a majority vote in the Senate allowing the package to move to the full floor for debate.

President Obama, flanked by reform supporters, spoke before reporters early Tuesday, just a few hours before the bill moves to the Senate for a cloture vote, throwing his full support behind the immigration bill calling it the “vehicle” to fix the nation’s woefully broken immigration system.

“If you’re not serious about it, if you think that a broken system is the best America can do, then I guess it might make sense to try to block it,” the President said. “But if you’re actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken immigration system, this is the vehicle to do it.”

The President acknowledged that the bill will face numerous amendments, specifically ones that pertain to border security introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, which calls for increased spending for more border patrol agents and surveillance, but make citizenship for currently undocumented immigrants difficult to obtain.

During his press conference, President Obama addressed the issue, “I know there’s a lot of talk right now about border security, so let me repeat: Today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades, and if passed, the Senate bill as currently written … would put in place the toughest border enforcement plan that America has ever seen,” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “So nobody’s taking border enforcement lightly.”

Many Republicans in the Senate have stated that they will support the cloture vote, but have not thrown their support behind the bill itself. Over the weekend, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) announced that the immigration bill would get her vote it so it is likely that more of her party peers in the Senate will follow suit.

President Obama also recognizes that the reform bill won’t make everyone on both sides of the aisle, telling reporters that it is a “compromise” and emphasizing that there are provisions in the bill he doesn’t like.

He also criticized the House for defunding the DREAM Act—young DREAMers were among his guests at the press conference.

“There’s no good reason to undo the progress we’ve already made, especially when it comes to extreme steps like stripping protections from Dreamers that my administration provided, or asking law enforcement to treat them in the same way they’d treat violent criminals,” Obama said. “That’s not who we are.”

Another positive sign that immigration reform is just on the horizon came from House Majority Leader John Boehner, who anticipating today’s Senate vote, appeared on “Good Morning America.”

GMA’s George Stephanopolous pressed Boehner on immigration reform, asking him if the House would support the bill.

“What I’m committed to is a fair and open process on the floor of the House— so that all members— have an opportunity,” Boehner said.

But Boehner was confident immigration reform would pass, telling Stephanopolous that he thinks it’s possible by the “end of the year.”