Legislation to secure US borders and offer millions of illegal immigrants a chance at American citizenship cleared the Senate on Thursday, a rare election-year reach across party lines and a triumph for President George W. Bush.
The 62-36 vote cleared the way for arduous summertime compromise talks with the House of Representatives on its version that focuses on border enforcement. There is no guarantee of success.
"Why not say to those undocumented workers who are working the jobs that the rest of us refuse, `Come out from the shadows,"' said Arizona Republican John McCain, a main architect of the bill.
The legislation includes money to secure the borders better, provide a new guest worker program and give an eventual shot at citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million to 12 million immigrants now in the country illegally.