Border deal boosts immigration bill

Far-reaching immigration legislation in the United States that offers the prize of citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants is beginning to quickly gain ground in the US Senate after Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement over dramatic steps intended to secure the border with Mexico.

The deal to double fencing and border security agents saw support given to the new immigration reform bill on Thursday from four previously undecided senators in the Republican Party with more now expected to join them, putting the legislation in reach of gaining the crucial bipartisan support that it will need in order to be seriously considered by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans.  These days immigration is one of the very rare issues that seem guaranteed to get support from both of the major political parties.

The amendment is nearly ready according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  “It is safe to say that this agreement has the power to change minds in the Senate,” says Senator Chuck Schumer, who was one of the lead authors of the bill.  “With this agreement, we have now answered every criticism that has come forward about the immigration bill.”

The deal means that the border has to be rendered secure before the 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the United States can be given permanent resident status.  This will include the addition of 20,000 new agents to patrol the border as well as 350 miles of new fencing and 18 new unmanned surveillance drones.