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first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2But supporters of the Senate legislation hailed the coalition of Republicans and Democrats that fended off repeated attempts by conservatives to kill the bill. The advance of the Senate bill would also be a victory for President George W. Bush, who had thrown his support behind it. “We’re now down the home stretch,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the bill’s architects. In December, the House defied Bush’s call for a temporary-worker program and passed a border-security bill that would criminalize undocumented workers. House conservatives “remain steadfast in their support for a security-first approach to immigration,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. So with passage of the Senate legislation on track, Bush administration officials and lawmakers quickly turned their attention to wooing House Republicans. The White House dispatched Karl Rove, the president’s political adviser, to a meeting of House Republicans for the second week in a row to press the president’s case for a broader approach than the one adopted by the House. In an effort to reassure conservatives, administration officials moved swiftly to make good on their promise to reinforce beleaguered Border Patrol agents, telling the House Armed Services Committee that the first contingent of up to 6,000 National Guard soldiers would be deployed to the border with Mexico on June 1. WASHINGTON – A compromise Senate bill that would toughen border security and put most illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship emerged intact from more than a week of impassioned debate Wednesday, setting up a showdown with the House over the most substantial overhaul of immigration law in 20 years. After eight days of amendments and fiery arguments about national identity, the Senate voted 73-25 to limit further debate on the bill, suggesting that it had broad bipartisan support. The Senate also defeated several last-ditch efforts to derail it, and members of both parties predicted that the legislation would pass today. The effort to limit the tide of illegal immigration and deal with those illegal immigrants who are already in the United States will then move to negotiation between the Senate and the House, which has passed legislation that focuses on bolstering border security and offers no provision for citizenship. The gulf between the two versions is so vast, and the politics of immigration so heated in this election year, that the prospects for a deal remain murky at best. Many House Republicans vehemently oppose the provisions in the Senate bill that would legalize most illegal immigrants and create a guest-worker program that would bring 200,000 foreign workers into the country each year. They have vowed to fight to prevent the legislation from becoming law, and they have the support of many grass-roots conservatives around the country. A number of Senate Republicans, including McCain, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they were reaching out to their House colleagues. They said some House Republicans seemed interested in finding common ground. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., the leader of the conservative caucus in the House, proposed a bill Tuesday that would allow illegal immigrants to become guest workers, though they would not be allowed to become permanent residents or citizens. In addition, McCain said he had spoken to Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., who told him that several of his colleagues were interested in supporting a compromise. But Castle, a moderate, warned that the negotiations ahead would be extremely difficult and said that both the bill produced by the House and the one produced by the Senate might end up being significantly rewritten. “There are House members who think the Senate has already gone too far,” said Castle, who said he supports the outlines of the Senate legislation. “Blending it with the House bill is going to be a very difficult process.” “I wish I could tell you that I think a majority of the House is looking for the same kind of solution,” he said. “I couldn’t say that right now.” Opponents of the bill in the Senate said they were looking now to their allies in the House to sink the legislation. “We’ve had some good debate in the Senate,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is a fierce critic of the bill. “But it’s still not fixed, in my opinion, in a whole number of ways. What really needs to be done is for the bill to be pulled down.” Under the Senate agreement, illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for five years or more, about 7 million people, would eventually be granted citizenship if they remained employed, had background checks, paid fines and back taxes and learned English. Illegal immigrants who have lived here for two to five years, about 3 million people, would have to travel to a U.S. border crossing and apply for a temporary work visa. They would be eligible for permanent residency and citizenship over time, but they would have to wait several years for it. Illegal immigrants who have been here less than two years, about 1 million people, would be required to leave the country altogether. They could apply for spots in the temporary-worker program, but they would not be guaranteed positions. The legislation would also require employers to use a new employment verification system that would distinguish between legal and illegal workers, create documents resistant to counterfeiting for legal immigrants and impose stiff fines for violations by employers. It also increases the number of Border Patrol agents and calls for other enforcement measures. Critics of the bill did win some notable victories. They won agreement on amendments that call for 370 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, designate English as the national language and reduce the number of foreign guest workers to be admitted annually from 320,000 to 200,000. Still, the central elements of the bill, the legalization of illegal immigrants and the guest-worker program, emerged almost entirely intact.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img