As part of the NACLA-Global Voices series, Latin America: Migrant Journeys, we talk to Global Voices contributor Robert Valencia and NACLA writer Joseph Nevins about what the U.S. immigration reform legislation means for migrant communities. On June 24, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill with a vote of 67-27. The bill seeks to create a roadmap for citizenship while strengthening border security. It also raises the cap on visas for high-skilled workers and intends to establish a new visa program for low-skilled workers.
While many pro-immigration advocates have celebrated the legislation, some fear that the emphasis on border security eclipses the gains. The Senate bill provides for the hiring of almost 19,000 new Border Patrol agents, the building of 700 additional miles of walls, and an investment of billions of dollars in surveillance technologies.
The fate of the current immigration reform now depends on the U.S. House of Representatives. But the most likely scenario involves the house passing separate bills that will eventually be packaged in a House-Senate committee. Interest groups are expected to lobby congress after they return from their August recess.