Brett Neely, MPR News
Laurie Kellman, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- A sweeping overhaul of immigration was approved Thursday during a rare sight of all 100 United States Senators at their desks as Vice President Joe Biden presided.
"The yeas for this bill are 68, the nays are 32. The bill as amended is passed," Biden said, announcing the result.
Both of Minnesota's Senators voted to pass the bill.
DFL Sen. Al Franken said the bill reflected American and Minnesota values.
"For decades Minnesota has welcomed more refugees and asylees than almost any other state," Franken said.
Fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar said the bill would be a boost to the economy.
"We cannot continue to compete in the global economy if we close our doors to those that think, and make stuff and invent things," Klobuchar said.
Leading the way were the eight senators -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- who spent hour after hour since January working out a compromise at some political peril. They had reason to reflect: Unlike most bipartisan gangs from Senates past, this one actually produced legislation that could help resolve one of the most complex and far-reaching policy conundrums facing the country.
Immigration policy is, by definition, personal to most Americans. Throughout the final day of debate Thursday, senators made clear it's certainly personal to them.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., teared up when recalling his father-in-law, who was born in Russia.
Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Durbin dedicated their votes to their mothers.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., recalled working as a child with his family, side-by-side with immigrants here illegally "who worked harder than we did under conditions much more difficult than we endured." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke of his grandparents and great-grandparents who fled persecution in Europe.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., relayed several news reports recounting the thousands of people whose bodies have been found in the sweltering Arizona desert, evidence of the risks that people take in illegally crossing the border from Mexico.
"Isn't it in us to bring 11 million people out of the shadows?" McCain said on the Senate floor.
Yes, the Senate later agreed, voting to send to the House a bill that would put most of them on a path toward citizenship and establish a military-style operation of 20,000 new guards, 700 miles of fencing and an array of war-developed technologies like drones and motion sensors to make the U.S.-Mexico border virtually impenetrable. The House is all for the latter, but majority Republicans are much less enamored with a creating a new path to citizenship for people breaking the law by their very presence in the U.S.