4:30 PM Eastern - Thursday, June 27, 2013

BREAKING: Senate passes the most significant overhaul of our nation's immigration laws in a generation #default

Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass S.744 immigration billToday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass immigration bill S. 744 by a vote of 68-32, fulfilling the call and dreams of American and immigrant communities across the country.

All throughout the corners of America, we celebrate this monumental step the Senate has taken to finally pass historic immigration reform.

While no one can claim that this legislation is entirely perfect - the excessive and costly resources to secure our border are undoubtedly concerning - we want to make sure everyone is aware of the good things that are in the immigration bill.

Here are just a few...

What we won
  • The path to citizenship for nearly 11 million people stayed intact.
  • We've got the best DREAM Act provision ever - with a 5 year path to citizenship for Dreamers.
  • The bill allows for family reunification--meaning people who have been deported will be allowed to return. Families that have spent years, even decades waiting for their turn in line will finally be reunited.
  • New temporary worker programs that protect immigrant workers and American labor force.
  • New worker visa programs would provide for strict compliance with U.S. labor standards; portability of visas and the ability for workers to come to the U.S. in a safe, orderly manner.
  • Inclusion of POWER Act, which would bolster legal remedies to immigrant workers who are fired in violation of labor laws.
  • Future work-visa holders will be able to self-petition for green cards rather than relying on employers to decide whether they can call America home for good.
  • All workers would be treated equally by the tax system and eligible for tax credits
  • Farm workers would get a 'blue card' and will be on a 5 year path to citizenship.
  • Expedited path for those already here in a temporary status.
  • Prohibits ICE from conducting raids/arrests outside schools, churches, hospitals and other "sensitive locations."
  • Ensures access to affordable housing for battered immigrants.

After more than a decade of fighting for commonsense immigration reform, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina commended the passage of the bipartisan legislation before pivoting to the fight that lies ahead in the House.

"What we can undoubtedly affirm is that this bill will set a new precedent and will mend much of our broken immigration system. It will allow millions of our friends, colleagues, families and neighbors to enter the threshold into American society, democracy and our economy. The lives of all families will be impacted for the better as will our economy that will stand to flourish.

"What lies ahead will not be easy or pretty, but what stands before the House is a model of compromise that stood the test of scrutiny, heated debate and challenging amendments. The bill is an agreement between two political parties that found common ground in upholding a roadmap to citizenship unfettered by burdensome barriers, protecting future and current working families and strengthening the unity of families."

PHOTO: Eliseo Medina joins SEIU immigration team members to head to the Senate floor for the cloture vote on S. 744.

The Senate has truly done a service to the strong majority of Americans who want the President to sign sensible and smart immigration reform into law. Every single Democrat voted yes - even the ones who voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 - and 14 Republicans joined them. Senators who voted for this legislation have made their mark on the pages of American history--and we're grateful to each and every one of the 68 champions who stood up to do the right thing.

Want to send a message to your Senator?
America's Voice has an updated Twitter tool with 'yay' and 'nay' votes so that people can thank or spank their Senators accordingly. Check it out here.

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SEIU was founded by immigrant janitors over 90 years ago, and immigrants have been an intricate part of SEIU's, and America's, history. We're thrilled that our country is steps closer to finally enacting historic, commonsense immigration reform that is worthy of our values.

SHARE your pride in our Senate champions who threw down - and refused to quit - on this historic immigration fight.

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