Washington: The US Senate has passed the landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill which provides a pathway to citizenship to more than 11 million undocumented people, including over 240,000 Indians.
The key legislation received bipartisan support as the often polarized Senate passed it with strong 68-to-32 vote. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives before it can be sent to US President Barack Obama to sign it into law.
The bill, however, retained killer provisions when it comes to H-1B Visas that would badly hit Indian companies in the United States.
"Today with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all," President Obama said in a statement.
"If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history," he said.
"It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who's playing by the rules and trying to come here legally," Obama said.
"It would modernise the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. It would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy," he said.
However, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner yesterday said any immigration legislation must win the support of a majority of his conference to move forward.
"For any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the House, it֒s going to have to be a bill that has the support of a majority of our members," he said.
Boehner's comments cast doubt on the chances legislation will quickly reach Obama's desk. The meeting of the Senate was yesterday presided over by Vice President Joe Biden.
"According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, modernising our immigration system and bringing these hard working immigrants out of the shadows and into our economy will improve our nation's balance sheet by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 20 years," said Biden.