The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 21, 2013

Senate immigration bill boosted by border deal

(Continued)

Vice President Joe Biden told a predominantly Latino crowd of 1,100 gathered in Las Vegas for the national conference for the League of United Latin American Citizens that now is the time for a "fair, and firm and unfettered path for 11 million people" to become U.S. citizens.

"The question you should ask is, 'What will immigration reform do for America?'" Biden said Thursday. "The answer is clear and resounding: It can and will do great things for America."

Hoeven said the 10-year cost included $25 billion for the additional Border Patrol agents, $3 billion for fencing and $3.2 billion for other measures.

It's "border security on steroids," said Corker, who along with Hoeven had been uncommitted on the immigration bill. Both are now prepared to support it, assuming their amendment is adopted, as is expected to happen early next week. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., also announced their support Thursday.

Corker and Hoeven had said they expected the legislation to be formally unveiled in the Senate late Thursday, but for unexplained reasons that did not happen. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., adjourned the Senate around 10:30 p.m., saying the amendment was nearly ready and the Senate could move forward with it Friday.

The deal on border security came together quickly earlier this week after talks had bogged down over Republicans' insistence that green cards be made conditional on catching or turning back 90 percent of would-be border crossers. Schumer, other Democrats and Obama himself rejected this trigger, which they feared could delay the path to citizenship for years.

The breakthrough came when the Congressional Budget Office released a report Tuesday finding that the bill would cut billions of dollars from the deficit.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an author of the bill who helped run interference between Corker and Hoeven and Democrats in the group, said that with the CBO finding in hand, he sat down with Schumer and Corker and said, "OK, let's go big."

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