[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] on Thursday approved two controversial amendments to the immigration reform bill [JURIST news archive] on the status of English in the United States. The first amendment, proposed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) [official website] and passed 63-34 [roll call], would make English the national language of the United States. The measure drew some heated opposition, most notably from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] who called it "racist." The Senate also approved by 58-39 [roll call] an alternative amendment introduced by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) [official website] that would declare English "the common and unifying language of the United States." The effect of the amendments is unclear as the bill already requires illegal immigrants to exhibit English proficiency as a prerequisite for citizenship.
Also on Thursday, the Senate approved 63-34 [roll call] an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn [official website] that imposes greater fees on illegal immigrants applying for citizenship to reimburse states for money expended on health care, education and other costs. A proposed amendment that would have abolished Social Security benefits that immigrants earned under illegal status was tabled after a close 50-49 [roll call] vote. The Star-Telegram has more.