The Senate has finally voted on whether or not to proceed with a formal debate on the immigration reform bill and the decision is "yes." The bill needed 60 votes in order to continue in the Senate, and it got an overwhelming 82 votes. This vote opens the window of possibility for President Obama's end of summer goal for the bill to be reached.
NBC Latino reported that all Senate Democrats voted yes and 20 Republican Senators, including Texas Senator John Cornyn, Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul voted yes as well. A total of 15 Republicans voted against it.
But voting "yes" does not mean that all are in support of the current bill as it is written. Senator Marco Rubio said he would introduce an amendment requiring all immigrants to prove they were English-proficient before receiving legal immigration status. Others, including Rubio, also say their "yes" votes are contingent upon much more stringent and tougher border security provisions.
At the White House yesterday, Obama said that illegal border crossings had been at their lowest level in years and also pointed out that the bill would add an additional $6.5 billion to funding for enforcement. A Latino Decisions poll found that 81 percent of Latino voters reject the idea of having the border secured before offering a pathway to citizenship.
NumbersUSA, a group opposed to increasing immigration, criticized the Senators who voted to move the bill to the floor. But pro-immigration groups like the Fair Immigration Reform Movement feel the vote signals a positive shift on reform.