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Immigration overhaul: Senate passes historic bill

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," shakes hands on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," shakes hands on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., left, walks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote on the immigration reform bill. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., left, walks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote on the immigration reform bill. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. The Senate advanced historic immigration legislation across the last procedural test Thursday and prepared to vote later in the day to pass the measure offering the prize of U.S. citizenship to millions. McConnell has said that the bill doesn't ensure true border security since people here illegally can obtain a provisional legal status under the legislation before any security goals are accomplished. "This bill may pass the Senate today, but not with my vote. And in its current form, it won't become law," McConnell said.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. The Senate advanced historic immigration legislation across the last procedural test Thursday and prepared to vote later in the day to pass the measure offering the prize of U.S. citizenship to millions. McConnell has said that the bill doesn't ensure true border security since people here illegally can obtain a provisional legal status under the legislation before any security goals are accomplished. "This bill may pass the Senate today, but not with my vote. And in its current form, it won't become law," McConnell said. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," shakes hands on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., left, walks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote on the immigration reform bill. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. The Senate advanced historic immigration legislation across the last procedural test Thursday and prepared to vote later in the day to pass the measure offering the prize of U.S. citizenship to millions. McConnell has said that the bill doesn't ensure true border security since people here illegally can obtain a provisional legal status under the legislation before any security goals are accomplished. "This bill may pass the Senate today, but not with my vote. And in its current form, it won't become law," McConnell said.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

With a solemnity reserved for momentous occasions, the Senate passed historic legislation yesterday offering the priceless hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America’s shadows. The bill also promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico.

The bipartisan vote was 68-32 on a measure that sits atop President Obama’s second-term domestic agenda. Even so, the bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-controlled House, where conservatives generally oppose citizenship for immigrants living in the country unlawfully.

Spectators in galleries that overlook the Senate floor watched expectantly as senators voted one by one from their desks. Some onlookers erupted in chants of “Yes, we can” after Vice President Joe Biden announced the bill’s passage.

After three weeks of debate, there was no doubt about the outcome. Fourteen Republicans joined all 52 Democrats and two independents to support the bill.

In a written statement, Obama coupled praise for the Senate’s action with a plea for resolve by supporters as the House works on the issue. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,” said the president, who was traveling in Africa.

The legislation’s chief provisions include numerous steps to prevent future illegal immigration – some added in a late compromise that swelled Republican support for the bill – and to check on the legal status of job applicants already living in the United States. At the same time, it offers a 13-year path to citizenship to as many as 11 million immigrants now living in the country unlawfully.

Under the deal brokered last week by Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee and the Gang of 8 – the group that drafted the bill – the measure requires 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, the completion of 700 miles of fencing and deployment of an array of high-tech devices along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Those living in the country illegally could gain legal status while the border security plan is being implemented, but would not be granted permanent resident green cards or citizenship.

A plan requiring businesses to check on the legal status of prospective employees would be phased in over four years.

Other provisions would expand the number of visas available for highly skilled workers relied upon by the technology industry.

DEAD on ARRIVAL in the Responsible Republican House because 70% of real Americans want congress to fulfill their promise in 2006 to build the fence 1st.

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