The US immigration reform debate would appear to be on the way to passing through the Senate after a deal was struck to strengthen border security –the issue which had been viewed as the main barrier to the bill’s chances of progression.
The new bipartisan deal will mean that the number of patrol officers working the US-Mexico border will be doubled to 40,000, while 700 miles of new fencing will be added to the border.
The agreement was struck between Republican Senators John Hoeven and Bob Corker who had been working closely with Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were part of the Gang of Eight who drew up the proposed legislation.
The importance of the deal was not lost on Senator Graham, who earlier this month predicted that the bill would pass the Senate by Independence Day. “What we’re trying to do is put in place measures that to any reasonable person would be an overwhelming effort to secure our border short of shooting anybody who comes across the border,” he said, before adding, “I know this is a key moment in the effort to pass this bill. This is sort of the defining 24 to 36 hours,’ he added.”
Many Republicans Senators had been reluctant to throw their full weight of support behind the reform proposals due to concerns over border security. This new deal should change this and pave the way for the bill to pass the Senate, although question marks still remain over whether the House of Representatives will be appeased by the changes.
Another amendment to the original proposal means that immigrants will not be able to claim credit for Social Security taxes they paid while working without lawful status.