US immigration bill at risk over border security

An enormous immigration bill has been inching forward in the US Senate, but Republicans have issued a warning that the landmark reforms are in danger of stalling or possibly even dying in Congress unless those backing the bill agree to tighten border security still further.

The Senate has spent much of the last week and will continue to spend the next week in debate over the measure, which is to offer a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million immigrants who are currently living illegally in the United States, revise guest worker programs for high tech and agricultural industries and cut down on unlawful crossings at the border between the US and Mexico.  However, a number of Republicans have warned that the provisions for border security are far too weak to result in broad support from their caucus, even though many others from both political parties consider it to be the strongest ever.

“I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans,” House Speaker John Boehmer apparently told his caucus behind closed doors.

Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, wants to see the immigration bill passed by early next month and debate is expected to start in July in the House of Representatives, but Boehmer criticized the legislation as being “weak on border security” on Tuesday.  Democrat congressman Luis Gutierrez has slammed the comments, warning that the Republican Party faces serious political consequences if they are responsible for derailing reform.