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Key Senate panel passes immigration reform bill,offers path to US citizenship for 260k Indians

Bill passed through panel only after lawmakers reached a deal on H-1B visa expansion plan.

The landmark immigration bill,which offers a path to citizenship for more than 11 million – including over 260,000 Indians – undocumented immigrants and increasing H-1B visas today passed its first legislative test.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on the fifth day of its deliberations that included 300 amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill – Border Security,Economic Opportunity,and Immigration Modernization Act – passed it by 13-5 votes.

The bill passed through the key Senate committee only after lawmakers reached a deal on H-1B visa expansion plan. The bill (No 744) now goes to the Senate for approval,which is expected to witness another round of negotiations and tough bargaining. It needs 60 votes to pass the 100-seat Senate.

Welcoming the passage of the legislation,US President Barack Obama said that it is largely consistent with the principles of commonsense reform he has proposed and meets the challenge of fixing the broken immigration system.

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Obama urged the full Senate to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor at earliest possible opportunity.

He remained hopeful that the amendment process will lead to further improvements.

“None of the committee members got everything they wanted,and neither did I,but in the end we all owe it to the American people to get the best possible result over the finish line,” he said in a statement.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee held five markup sessions to consider the bipartisan legislation.

“The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history,our values,and our decency can inspire us finally to take action,” Chairman Patrick Leahy said.

“We need an immigration system that lives up to American values and helps write the next great chapter in American history by reinvigorating our economy and enriching our communities,” he said.

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“This bipartisan legislation establishes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. It addresses the lengthy backlogs in our current immigration system – backlogs that have kept families apart sometimes for decades,” said Leahy,who shepherded the complicated bill through the marathon markup session.

First published on: 22-05-2013 at 11:11 IST
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