29 Jun 2013

US Senate passes immigration bill

5:59 am on 29 June 2013

The US Senate has passed a sweeping but contentious bill to reform the country's immigration system.

The bill, which is backed by President Barack Obama, provides a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million people living illegally in the US.

After the bill's passage on Thursday, President Barack Obama said the vote brought the US "a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all".

However the BBC reports the legislation faces a tough road in the more conservative House of Representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner has said he will not advance legislation that lacks support of most of his fellow Republicans, who remain resistant.

The 68-32 vote comes after months of debate and a recent deal to boost border security spending significantly.

Two Republican senators this week brokered a compromise to increase border security spending by $US38 billion. That amendment to the bill added an additional 20,000 border security agents, new fencing, electronic surveillance, and unmanned drones and passed on Wednesday.