WASHINGTON – The US Senate passed an immigration reform bill that would give an estimated 11 million undocumented workers a path to citizenship and increased funding for border security. The bill passed 68-32.
The bill addresses undocumented immigrants, employer hiring and legal immigration, among other issues. The bill also provides for substantial increases in border security. The government must deploy an additional 20,000 border agents, mandate E-Verify, complete a 700-mile border fence and bolster entry-exit systems to verify if a foreign national has overstayed a visa.
“Border security and immigration have been one of our top priorities as set by our members in 2013," said Scott George, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "I am pleased to see that the Senate has continued the conversation on this important issue that affects all Americans, but especially rural Americans and our members who live and ranch along our borders. This action by the Senate is a step in the right direction and we look forward to engaging with members of the House in ensuring the priorities of cattlemen and women are met in final legislation."
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the bipartisan vote was good news for the agriculture industry and rural America.
"The Senate plan would ensure the stable agricultural workforce that US producers need in order to remain competitive with other nations and maintain our abundant, affordable food supply. For millions of farm workers who today live in the shadows, it will provide an appropriate opportunity to earn legal status by contributing to America's agricultural economy," Vilsack said in a statement. "In addition to being a strongly pro-agriculture bill, the Senate plan would grow the US economy, strengthen the Social Security system and reduce our deficit. Following today's strong bipartisan vote by the Senate, the House of Representatives must continue the momentum toward passage of comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible."