Immigration reform in the U.S. concluded its cycle in the Senate on Thursday, June 27. Now it's up to the House of Representatives. The destiny of 11 million undocumented workers is in play as the House will ultimately decide whether or not to open to them the long, winding road to American citizenship.
The reform's successful journey through the Senate showed just how strong it is. Obama certainly backed it, telling Congress to "act and take advantage of the best opportunity in years to offer a path to citizenship this same summer."* Soon after, what has been called the "Gang of Eight" was born, a group of eight senators who have undertaken work on the reform's numerous amendments and who integrated a budget that was passed by just two votes on June 11.
During the three weeks that followed, the Senate heard everyone's voices, including the filibusters, or Republicans who insisted on the reform first guaranteeing some sort of border security—a motion that would win out in the end.
The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Harry Reid, then had to comply with the motion to reinforce border security by Republicans John Hoeven and Bob Corker, organized together with the Gang of Eight and backed by the Obama administration. The motion was passed with 67 votes in favor and 27 against and, as a condition to accepting the permanent residence of 11 million undocumented immigrants, a "border reinforcement plan" was passed with it. The plan includes doubling the number of federal agents to 40,000, completing the construction of a border wall 700 miles long and the use of high-tech security, including more helicopters, radar and drone aircraft. All of this comes at a cost of $46 billion.
Those Democrats who supported this Republican initiative did so because they were convinced that it would pave the way for: a) the bipartisan project to be approved by the Senate that Thursday, June 27—and it was, with 68 votes in favor and 32 against; and b) a better reception in the House of Representatives, which began its first discussions on the matter the day after its July 4 recess.
One thing that is certain: The sealing of the border will cause problems for Mexico, involving the complication of the legal crossing of people and goods—the border zone is home to 14 million people, 70 percent of whom have business that takes place across the border—and particularly the overcrowding of border cities and towns by people from other parts of Mexico and other countries who are seeking to cross to "the other side." Those unable to enter the U.S. will be left to settle in Mexico's border areas, putting a strain on services and security there, with an increase in crime being an obvious consequence.
The time has come to reflect seriously on the Mexican southern border and emulate the experiences of the Americans and Europeans. If only legal and authorized people and goods are to pass through its border, Mexico is a lost cause. All types of contraband, including drugs, pass through its southern border and recent attempts have shown the impossibility of guaranteeing the security of those who enter the country through it, Mexican and foreigner alike, with many falling victim to organized crime. There doesn't seem to be any clear solution, at least not one that doesn't get caught up in rhetoric.
*Editor’s Note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be verified.