Broad Immigration Bill Cruising to Senate Passage

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Far-reaching immigration legislation cruised toward passage in the Senate on Wednesday as House Republicans pushed ahead on a different approach that cracks down on millions living in the U.S. illegally rather than offering them a chance at citizenship.

Presidential politics took a more prominent role in a long-running national debate as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tried to reassure conservatives that many criticisms of the bill, which he helped write, are “just not true.”

There was no doubt that the Senate bill was on track for passage by Thursday or Friday.

Supporters posted 67 votes or more on each of three procedural tests Wednesday, far more than the 60 needed to prevail. More than a dozen Republicans sided with Democrats on each, assuring bipartisan support that the bill’s backers hope will change minds in the House.

At its core, the legislation includes numerous steps to prevent future illegal immigration, while at the same time it offers a chance at citizenship for millions living in the country illegally.

It provides for 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, requires the completion of 700 miles of fencing and requires an array of high-tech devices be deployed to secure the border with Mexico.

Businesses would be required to check on the legal status of prospective employees. The government would be ordered to install a high-tech system to check on the comings and goings of foreigners at selected international airport in the United States.