Leahy's Judiciary Committee takes up immigration reform - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Leahy's Judiciary Committee takes up immigration reform

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Sen. Chuck Schumer Sen. Chuck Schumer
Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy
WASHINGTON -

The U.S. Senate Thursday began the massive undertaking of reforming the nation's immigration laws.

A 900-page bill with 300 amendments is being marked up in the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.

The bill aims to put some 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally on a path to citizenship. The bill was crafted by a bipartisan group, but could face strong opposition, especially from Republicans in southern border states who say the bill does not adequately secure the borders against future illegal immigration.

Authors of the bill urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to be willing to compromise.

"And we have come up with a fair bill, where no one gets everything they want. But at the end of the day it will mean dramatic improvement for the American economy, for the American people," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

Leahy will try to make sure the bill includes provisions important to Vermont, including a visa program for migrant farm workers. He will also try to block any efforts to implement border crossing fees or build any fencing along the border with Canada.

But Senator Leahy has introduced one amendment that could derail the entire bill. Leahy wants to allow foreign partners in long-term same-sex relationships to be able to get green cards like married heterosexual couples can. According to a report Thursday in The Hill newspaper, sponsors are worried that's the kind of amendment that could lead Republicans to reject the overall immigration bill.

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