The U.S. Senate passed the chamber's Gang Of Eight immigration reform bill Thursday afternoon.
The bill, S. 744, passed by a 68-32 vote, with both Illinois U.S. Senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, voting in favor of the bill. The legislation creates a pathway to citizenship and garnered some 14 Republican votes, including Kirk's, after the Corker-Hoeven amendment, which calls for stricter border security, was added to the bill.
Although the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) remains "troubled" by the Corker-Hoeven amendment, the group applauded passage of the bill today.
“While Hoeven-Corker has been an extremely high price to pay for a path to citizenship, the core of this bill will still ensure that our families will not be hurt through deportation and separation and will thrive and contribute to our nation,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR in a statement. “We would like to recognize the hard work of our ally and champion Senator Richard Durbin for his leadership to ensure that our immigrant families have a real opportunity to achieve the American dream. We also thank Senator Mark Kirk for recognizing the need for a path to citizenship and supporting this legislation.”
The bill is now headed to the U.S. House. One House Rep. from Illinois voiced his pleasure with the Senate vote, adding that it is now time for his chamber to act.
“Passing comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens our border and provides a clear pathway to citizenship is critical," said U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10). "I applaud Democrats and Republicans in the Senate for their vote today and for passing comprehensive immigration reform. Washington has let politics block progress for too long, failing to come together to address our broken immigration system. I am encouraged by this step and urge all my colleagues in the House to take action on comprehensive immigration reform.”
UPDATE 1 (4:03 P.M.): U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) called the vote a "historic step":
I am very pleased to see the strong bipartisan support in the Senate for passing a comprehensive package that includes a plan to secure our borders, a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and a more secure and efficient system for legal immigration.
I am especially pleased to see that this plan includes an expedited path to citizenship for DREAMers and access to federal student aid, because we shouldn’t be pushing away talented young students from the only home they have ever known. We should give them a chance to succeed.
This is a historic step forward – today’s vote is the closest we have come in decades to passing comprehensive immigration reform. Now it’s time for the House to act. I thank Senator Durbin for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with Congressman Gutierrez and my colleagues in the House to take the next step in passing comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate vote today shows bipartisan compromise in our democracy working at its best. I urge both Democrats and Republicans in the House to follow their lead.
The path to passing reform isn’t simple, and the final plan will likely contain some painful compromises. But when we create a path to citizenship for our friends, our family and our neighbors – who are good, law abiding members of society who just want to build better lives for themselves and their families – we all benefit.
Illinois governor Pat Quinn released the following statement, applauding passage of the bill:
Today our nation took a significant step towards repairing its broken immigration system. I commend Illinois Senators Durbin and Kirk for their votes in favor of this common-sense and comprehensive national immigration reform proposal.
Since its founding, America has drawn strength from immigrants who have come in search of a better life. This bill honors our history by establishing a new, fair path towards earned citizenship for 11 million undocumented individuals.
Immigration reform is not only the right thing to do. It will also stimulate Illinois’ economy over the next 10 years by creating an estimated 4,400 new jobs annually and generating $1.6 billion in additional taxes from immigrants to state coffers. It will send a signal that the people of the United States embrace the freedom-seekers and entrepreneurs who wish only for a shot at the American Dream and a chance to contribute.
As governor of one of the nation’s most immigrant-friendly states, I call on the U.S. House of Representatives to act quickly to pass this legislation.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he is "committed to building on" the bill's "historic reforms":
Today’s landmark vote by the Senate moves us one step closer to fixing our broken immigration system. The law will create a pathway to legal status for millions of hardworking residents and will help create a brighter future for all Americans by making our country more competitive. We thank Senator Dick Durbin for his leadership on immigration reform and Senator Mark Kirk for working to make this a bipartisan effort. We call on the House of Representatives to take quick action and pass a comprehensive immigration bill that is true to our values as a nation and will create value for our nation for generations to come.
As Mayor of Chicago, I am committed to building on these historic reforms by making Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the nation. From our support for the Illinois DREAM Act, to establishing initiatives that promote immigrant businesses and citizenship, to maintaining Chicago's status as a welcoming city, we are creating more opportunities for immigrants to pursue their dreams. Today's vote brings us closer to ensuring that immigrants continue to make the city of big shoulders a stronger city, as they have done in every generation.
Illinois labor leaders have also spoken out in favor of the vote:
Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO:
Working people in Illinois and across the country will benefit from today’s bipartisan vote to help make comprehensive immigration reform a reality. While Republicans certainly have extracted a high price for moving this necessary legislation forward, the compromise is a historic step in the right direction and we thank Senators Durbin and Kirk for their support. Countless Illinoisans have been speaking up in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that protects workers’ rights, keeps families together, and creates an attainable roadmap to citizenship. The fight continues as we urge the U.S. House of Representatives to take up comprehensive reform without delay and for Illinois’ congressional delegation to be its champion.
Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor:
The key to this legislation is the roadmap to citizenship for millions of people who have been living and working here, contributing to our communities without the ability to exercise basic rights on the job and living in fear of deportation. Thanks to a broad coalition of union members, small business owners, faith leaders, and immigrant advocates in Illinois coming together, we are one large step closer to finally having a workable immigration process that protects all workers. On behalf of Chicago workers, I want to thank our senators for their support and I want to thank our members and community allies - but our work is not done until this comprehensive immigration reform becomes law.