[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] has approved the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 [S 2611 summary] by a vote of 62-36 [roll call]. The bill would set millions of illegal immigrants on a path to potential citizenship and would authorize a temporary worker program. Thirty-two of the thirty-six senators voting against the bill were Republicans, including Trent Lott, Rick Santorum, and Orrin Hatch. Republican Senators Arlen Specter, Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, John McCain and most Democrats supported the legislation. The vote follows several weeks of debate [JURIST report] during which senators made several changes to the bill, including:
Members of both houses of Congress must now convene in a conference committee to reconcile their separate bills on immigration reform [JURIST news archive]. Late last year the US House of Representatives passed [JURIST report] the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act [PDF text; summary], a more restrictive version of immigration reform which makes unlawful presence in the US a felony subject to deportation and could punish humanitarian groups aiding illegals.