Immigration Reform Bill Heads to Senate Floor

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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 5 Tuesday evening to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill out of committee. The bill is expected to head to the Senate floor in early June.

The Judiciary Committee considered more than 300 amendments to the bill, defeating dozens of amendments that would have made the pathway to legalization more difficult.

One of the most controversial amendments would have given gay and lesbian couples equal treatment under immigration law. Sen. Patrick Leahy withheld that amendment "with a heavy heart" on Tuesday, after Democrats and Republicans voiced concern that it could "kill the bill."

Among the amendments that passed are: a deal struck between Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on visas for high-skilled workers to address the concerns of tech companies; an amendment to keep families together; and several amendments to strengthen border enforcement.

One of these is a pilot project that would track immigrants leaving the U.S. A week after Senators rejected an amendment that would have required a biometric system for non-U.S. citizens, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a narrower amendment sponsored by Sen. Hatch that would require non-citizens to submit fingerprints when they leave the country. The pilot project would be launched at the 10 busiest U.S. airports within two years of the bill's passage. After six years, the system would be expanded to 30 airports. Non-citizens are already required to submit fingerprints when entering the country.