Activists in Downtown LA Cheer Senate Vote on Immigration Bill - NBC Southern California

Activists in Downtown LA Cheer Senate Vote on Immigration Bill

The Senate version of the immigration reform bill faces strong opposition in the House



    Activists in downtown Los Angeles are conducting a 24-hour vigil as they wait for lawmakers in Washington D.C. to take action. Antonio Bernabe talks about his hopes for immigration reform. Annette Arreola reports for Today in LA on Thursday June 27, 2013. (Published Thursday, June 27, 2013)

    Activists in downtown Los Angeles conducted a 24-hour vigil as they waited for lawmakers in Washington D.C. to take action on an immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate 68-32 Thursday ahead of what appears to be a tough challenge in the House.

    The bill -- the first major re-write of immigration laws since the mid-1980s -- faces opposition in the House of Representatives. The proposal includes a "pathway to citizenship" for up to 11 million undocumented immigrants.

    The Senate cleared a final hurdle -- a procedural vote requiring 60 votes -- early Thursday before its final vote. The procedural vote also was 68-32, with 14 Republicans joining Democrats in favor of the bill.

    A coalition of immigrant rights supporters gathered Wednesday in front of the Federal Building on Los Angeles Street in anticipation of the votes. They carried signs and banners during the 24-hour wait for action on the bill, which now includes about $46 billion in border security after Wednesday's session.

    The additional security funds would be spent over 10 years and increase the number of agents on the Unites States-Mexico border. It also would pay for portions of a border fence and surveillance equipment, such as drones.

    The initial plan called for about $6 billion in extra security spending.

    Many of those who gathered for the vigil in downtown Los Angeles understand this is a long battle that requires a lot of baby steps along the way.

    "One step at a time, one step at a time," immigrant Luis Galvan said.

    House Republicans plan to draft their own legislation and won't even vote on the Senate's version, said Speaker John Boehner.

    "We could be in for a rude awakening," said immigration attorney Nelson Castillo.

    "There needs to be comprehensive immigration reform, but it takes two to tango and you need the House of Representatives to also pass comprehensive immigration reform," Castillo said. "At this moment, we're not seeing that being done."

    Other recent efforts at immigration reform have fell short on the journey to the president's desk. A comprehensive bill also stalled in the House in 2006, and another attempt in 2007 failed to advance in the Senate.

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