Senate Votes to Begin Debate on Immigration Reform

The Senate voted 82-15 to begin debate on immigration reform Tuesday, marking the launch of what's sure to be the news story of the summer, 'Legalize Me Maybe.' No, but in all seriousness, this is probably one of the most important issues our country faces, and President Obama knows it.

This morning, POTUS gave a forthright speech on immigration reform, underlining the commonsense nature of the “Gang of Eight” bill and arguing that there's no reason why it shouldn’t pass by this summer’s end. Here's a breakdown of exactly what you need to know from the speech:

  • Obama emphasized that border security is going to get tougher—much tougher. "Today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades, and if passed, the Senate bill as currently written... would put in place the toughest border enforcement plan that America has ever seen," he said. "So nobody's taking border enforcement lightly."
  • He also outlined his plans for a path to citizenship, which he said isn’t going to be an easy process—but must exist to give undocumented individuals a way to live and work in the United States. "For immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the offset that there is a pathway to citizenship," Obama said. "If we're asking everyone to play the same rules, you have to give people a sense of certainty... that there is at the end of the horizon the opportunity—not the guarantee but the opportunity—to be a part of this American family. And by the way, the majority of Americans support this idea."
  • The underlying message of the speech was how practical and necessary the bipartisan bill is, as well as how detrimental Congressional failure to pass it would be. "There is no good reason to play procedural games or to engage in obstruction just to block the best chance we’ve had in years to address this problem in a way that’s fair to middle class families, to business owners, to legal immigrants," he said.

Obama’s speech came before the Senate casts its first votes on the immigration bill later today and also as House Speaker John Boehner says there’s a good chance an immigration bill will pass "by the end of the year."

Image: Getty Images