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5 things you should know about immigration reform
Mariana Rivas urges changes in the immigration bill, protesting in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office in Doral, Florida.
May 22nd, 2013
12:00 AM ET

5 things you should know about immigration reform

By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer

Washington (CNN) - Advocates for comprehensive immigration reform won their first major legislative victory this week when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to approve the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" plan.

If enacted, the measure will create a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

It aims to strengthen border security while raising the cap on visas for high-skilled workers and establishing a new visa program for low-skilled workers on America's farms and elsewhere.

Immigration reform clears key Senate hurdle

Here are five key things to know about the state of play on this issue:

1) There's still a long way to go

The Judiciary Committee's 13-5 vote was significant partly because three Republicans - Arizona's Jeff Flake, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, and Utah's Orrin Hatch - joined the panel's Democrats in backing the measure. Now, however, attention turns to the full Senate, where the level of GOP support remains an open question.

Assuming every member of the Democratic caucus backs the bill, five Republicans will be needed to ensure it receives the 60 votes needed to pass the 100-member chamber. The bill's backers have been hoping for as many as 70 votes, in order to give the proposal significant bipartisan momentum heading into the tougher GOP-controlled House.

And make no mistake - serious momentum will be needed in the House, where conservatives remain deeply skeptical about any measure offering a path to citizenship. A lot of conservatives consider that to be amnesty, which may as well be a four-letter word in this debate.

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