Immigration Reform passes Senate (with a big border security beef-up)

(Photo by Alex Stonehill)

Comprehensive immigration reform easily passed through the Senate Thursday, including an amendment adding billions of new dollars for border enforcement.

The Senate just passed a broad bipartisan plan to overhaul immigration laws, by a vote of 68-32. Almost two-thirds of Senate Republicans voted against the bill, while Democrats voted unanimously in favor.

The plan would, amongst other big changes, create a 13-year-long path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, ending the threat of deportation for those that register for the program (see graphic below for more details).

But a controversial amendment added Wednesday makes that path to citizenship contingent upon what critics are calling a “massive border surge,” adding 700 miles of border fence and 20,000 new border patrol agents along the 2000 mile long frontier with Mexico.

Senator John McCain, one of the authors of the original bill, told CNN that the amendment would create “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

The amendment would also likely mean increased Border Patrol activity along Washington State’s northern border.

The next stop for the immigration reform bill is the Republican-led House of Representatives, where the fight to pass it is expected to be a lot tougher.

5 things to know about the new immigration bill