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Passage Of Senate Immigration Bill Met With Lukewarm Response

Aired 6/27/13 on KPBS News.

The Senate voted 68 to 32 Thursday to pass a bill that would overhaul the nation’s immigration system while dramatically boosting border security. In the border region, support for the bill was mixed, with criticism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The Senate voted 68 to 32 on Thursday to pass a bill that would overhaul the nation’s immigration system while dramatically boosting border security.

A police officer patrols the border crossing in Tijuana.
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Above: A police officer patrols the border crossing in Tijuana.

In the border region, support for the bill was mixed, with criticism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The bill would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 8 million of the 11 million immigrants currently living in the country illegally. It would also double the size of the Border Patrol to 40,000 agents and build 700 miles of new fencing.

After the vote tally was announced in the Senate, the chambers erupted in jubilant chants of "yes we can" from immigration supporters.

But in the office of Alliance San Diego, where pro-immigrant activists watched the vote on C-SPAN, the mood was somber.

“This vote is a vote for a pathway to citizenship but it’s also a vote for the most draconian border enforcement regime we’ve ever seen, and it’s difficult to celebrate it,” said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego.

Across town — and across the political spectrum — former U.S. Attorney Peter Nuñez is also not happy with the Senate’s bill. He doesn’t think the country needs more immigrants, even legal ones. And he isn’t happy with the border security provisions in the bill either.

Nuñez wants stronger provisions for workplace immigration enforcement.

“Jobs is why most people come here illegally," Nuñez said. "And if you don’t deal with jobs, you are not going to solve the problem.”

But the bill’s tough border security provisions are what got it enough Senate Republican votes to pass. Supporters hope Republicans in the House of Representatives will be similarly swayed.

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