Nebraska Appleseed hailed Senate passage Thursday of an immigration reform bill while expressing its disappointment that Nebraska Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer chose not to embrace "the historic opportunity to make such a positive difference to our state."
The two Republican senators voted against passage of the bill, following up on their previous votes this week against a cloture motion that allowed the Senate to proceed to move the measure toward enactment.
"Immigration is an important part of the fabric of our families, communities and economy," said Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould. "Passage of this bill at long last moves us toward modernizing our antiquated immigration laws to create a strong foundation for Nebraska's families, our communities, our economy and our future.
"Under this legislation," she said, "there is at last a clear and attainable process to residency and eventual citizenship for aspiring Americans."
Nebraska Appleseed describes itself as a public interest law center that works to identify and address social injustices.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack described the legislation as "a strongly pro-agriculture bill (that) is good news for farmers and ranchers, good news for farm workers and good news for rural America."
"The Senate plan would ensure the stable agricultural workforce that U.S. producers need in order to remain competitive with other nations and maintain our abundant, affordable food supply," he said.
In a statement issued shortly after the Senate vote, Fischer said she was "especially disappointed" with the bill's border security provisions.
"Without a fully secure border, the United States will repeat the mistakes of the past and there will be no lasting solution," Fischer said.
She said she heard from thousands of Nebraskans who expressed their views on the legislation through phone calls, letters and emails.
During a conference call before the vote, Johanns said the legislation allows "the administration to verify with itself that the border is secure."