The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to send the bipartisan immigration bill — more formally known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernizing Act — to the full Senate. The 800-plus page bill is by far the most ambitious attempt to overhaul the nation's immigration system in nearly three decades. The version that will reach the floor is, not surprisingly, imperfect, but the fact that it emerged from committee at all, and largely intact, is a testament to both political parties' willingness to compromise — a characteristic that has been in short supply in Washington for a long time.
It is a grave disappointment, of course, that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was pressured to withdraw his amendment that would have allowed U.S. citizens to apply for green cards for their same-sex partners. But as Leahy himself acknowledged, that was the price of moving the measure to the floor, so he capitulated with "a heavy heart."
The legislation still faces plenty of hurdles. Some Republicans will argue, as they did Wednesday during a House hearing on the bill, that it doesn't go far enough on border and internal enforcement. Others, such as Chris Crane, the head of a union that represents deportation officers, will stoke fears that immigration reform will create some kind of a public safety crisis.