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June 27, 2013

Senate advances immigration bill to brink

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

It provides for 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, requires the completion of 700 miles of fencing and requires an array of high-tech devices to be deployed to secure the border with Mexico. Those security changes would be accomplished over a decade and would have to be in place before anyone in provisional legal status could obtain a permanent resident green card.

Businesses would be required to check on the legal status of prospective employees. Other provisions would expand the number of visas for highly skilled workers relied upon by the technology industry. A separate program would be established for lower-skilled workers, and farm workers would be admitted under a temporary program.

The basic legislation was drafted by four Democrats and four Republicans who met privately for months to produce a rare bipartisan compromise in a polarized Senate. They fended off unwanted changes in the Senate Judiciary Committee and then were involved in negotiations with Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee on a package of tougher border security provisions that swelled support among Republicans.

But it will be difficult for any agreement to be reached between the Senate and the House on the legislation. Further complicating prospects, Boehner made clear Thursday that he did not intend to rely on Democratic votes to pass an immigration bill, a route that many advocates believed offered the best chance of the House producing legislation compatible with the Senate’s product.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people,” Boehner told reporters. “And for any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the House, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members.”

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