[JURIST] The US Senate on Wednesday voted 73-25 in favor of invoking cloture [Senate backgrounder] on the Immigration Reform Bill [S 2611 summary] and limiting debate on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] has indicated that he would like to hold final vote on the immigration bill by the end of the week.
The vote to limit debate on immigration reform [JURIST news archive] comes the day after the Senate approved an amendment to the proposal that would impose fines up to $20,000 [AP report] on employers if they hire undocumented workers once a new screening system outlined in the legislation takes hold. The amendment, approved by a margin of 58-40 [roll call], also fines employers $200 to $600 for failing to use the new screening system, doubles the present level for employers that fail to screen and document new hires, and subjects employers who repeatedly violate the law to possible prison terms of up to three years. Employers will also have to submit new hire information to the computer system within three days of hiring the worker and wait for the Department of Homeland Security to confirm the worker is a legal resident. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) [official website], one of the amendment's co-sponsors, called the system an important tool to reduce the numbers of undocumented workers in the US [floor statement]. Opponents have criticized the computer system because illegal immigrants will be able to keep their jobs throughout all appeals. AP has more.