"Isn't it in us to bring 11 million people who are being exploited out of the shadows?" Asked an impassioned John McCain (R-AZ) before explaining how he went to a citizenship ceremony to find boots in the place of several people. These boots held the place for three people who were killed in action within the last 48 hours in the line of duty in Iraq. The senator had worked himself up to more of an impassioned plea than a typical Senatorial speech, going into the details of those who died in the desert pursuing what McCain called "American dream." He was not the first to speak passionately about immigration, but he did garner the loudest applause.
Earlier today the Senate voted 68-32 in favor of cloture, which limits debate and forces a vote. This lead to the senators making their final arguments for or against the bill. Senators from the right fringe like Sessions (R-Ala), Grassley (R-IA) and Cornyn (R-TX) spoke out strongly against the bill, trying to take positions that the bill was far too expensive placing too much resources on the border, while simultaneously not policing the border the way that they want. To be honest, it's becoming a flimsy argument: the Corker-Hoeven amendment was put in there with Sessions in mind to either quiet dissention or make them look unreasonable.
Others spoke out with McCain: Lindsay Graham (R-SC) spoke out against some of the offensive labels which are placed on immigrants, and how immigration would help balance our retiring Baby Boomer population; Dick Durbin (D-IL) talked about DREAMers, said that this bill "has the strongest DREAm Act ever written" and used examples of DREAMers to help put a face on this complicated and often dehumanizing issue; Marco Rubio (R-FL) even went a bit biblical, saying "We have seen the stranger, and invited them in," before sharing his rather intimate family history with immigration.
At the same time we have this powerful push, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. This did a few things: for starters, it sent an intern sprinting from the Supreme Court to the DOMA Project, where they used it to help stop the deportation of a man in a same sex marriage who was already in deportation proceedings and was very close to being separated from his husband. Secondly, it led to Senator Leahy saying that he was no longer compelled to try to add an LGBT amendment to the Gang of 8 bill, something which Marco Rubio said he would vote against.
With the LGBT issue no longer an issue and the kitchen sink already having been thrown at the border, there are very few legitimate controversies left in the Gang of 8 bill for politicians on the right fringe to exploit. The Gang of 8 bill started as a compromise, and has been dragged right by a Republican Party that still cannot completely get behind an immigration bill: Senator Sessions keeps mentioning the ICE Union, which wants more spending on security and enforcement and functions like a coke dealer at an intervention.
Senators like Cornyn are looking increasingly unreasonable on the national stage under the brightest spotlight we have had as a country since the background check vote.
When the Senate voted on the bill at 4 p.m. earlier today, they gave a strong answer to McCain's question of "Isn't it in us to bring 11 million people who are being exploited out of the shadows?" They voted 68-32 in favor of immigration reform, even with the brutal border security provisions in Corker-Hoeven. Now the bill will proceed to the House of Representatives, where another fight to keep the bill from sliding too far right will begin again.