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Border Deal Boosts Immigration Bill

  • Sen. John Hoeven, N.D., leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013, after speaking on his amendment to the immigration reform bill. Hoeven and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are pushing an amendment that insists on increased border security with an increase in Border Patrol agents and unmanned surveillance drones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. John Hoeven, N.D., leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013, after speaking on his amendment to the immigration reform bill. Hoeven and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are pushing an amendment that insists on increased border security with an increase in Border Patrol agents and unmanned surveillance drones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased  focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased  focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Sen. John Hoeven, N.D., leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013, after speaking on his amendment to the immigration reform bill. Hoeven and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are pushing an amendment that insists on increased border security with an increase in Border Patrol agents and unmanned surveillance drones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased  focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the Senate's immigration reform bill, moves between the Senate and his office as debate continues in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate, has been trying to keep the bill from stalling by working with Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who want increased  focus on border security.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Washington — Supporters of bipartisan immigration legislation smoothed the way yesterday for likely Senate passage of their handiwork, overcoming last-minute disagreements at the bill’s controversial core and tacking on other items certain to build support.

A test vote was set for Monday on the bill, which calls for a military-style surge to increase security at the U.S-Mexican border. At the same time it sets out a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the United States unlawfully.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the 11th Republican to announce her support for the legislation in the Democratic-controlled Senate. More were expected to follow, possibly enough to produce 70 votes or more and easily overwhelm its critics.

Some Democrats said a heavy show of support at the end of next week could alter the bill’s trajectory in the House, where majority Republicans strongly oppose citizenship for immigrants who came to the country illegally or overstayed their visas.

“Hopefully as congressmen look how their senators voted, they will be influenced by it,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has played a major role for Democrats on the issue.

The bill’s critics made no claim they could block it in the Senate, but said their position would be vindicated in the long run.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said the measure’s claims of border security were no different than previous assurances. “Time and again, politicians have promised, promised, promised. But they never delivered, delivered, delivered. And that’s a fact,” he said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who has been managing floor debate on the immigration bill, co-authored an amendment that would limit checkpoints on the northern border to within 25 miles of the border. That measure would effectively shutter a checkpoint on Interstate 91 in Hartford that has drawn widespread condemnation.

“This is an intrusive practice for local residents, subjecting Vermonters to needless and pointless delays and questioning,” Leahy said in a statement. “It simply is not a productive use of border enforcement dollars.”

With immigration at the top of President Obama’s second-term domestic agenda, White House spokesman Jay Carney labeled the Senate agreement a breakthrough. He refrained from issuing an outright endorsement of the legislation, even though Cabinet secretaries were consulted on some portions of it and administration officials drafted others.

The day’s developments marked a victory for the Senate’s so-called Gang of Eight, four Democrats and four Republicans who spent months working out the basic framework of immigration legislation. They then warded off unwanted changes in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, and in recent days, negotiated significant alterations with a group of Republicans who were uncommitted but willing to swing behind the bill if it were changed.

The principal demand was for tougher border security, particularly after the Congressional Budget Office estimated this week the bill would fail to prevent a future buildup in the population of immigrants in the country illegally.

Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had spent about a week negotiating with members of the Gang of Eight for changes, announced the agreement on Thursday. A day later, Corker said in the Senate the bill is a chance to deal with “the issues of security many of our citizens across the country care about, but at the same time allow 11 million people to come out of the shadows and work in the light and be a part of this great, great nation.”

The result of the negotiations was a series of expensive and highly detailed steps to guard against future illegal immigration across the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

For the so-called Yuma and Tucson sectors in Arizona, for example, the bill requires installation of 50 fixed towers; 73 fixed camera systems; 28 mobile surveillance systems; 685 unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging and infrared; and 22 handheld equipment devices, including thermal imaging systems and night vision goggles.

There are similar specifications for points of entry from Mexico. At the one in San Diego, the government is mandated to install two nonintrusive inspection systems; one radiation monitor and one detection and classification network.

The legislation also requires a doubling of the Border Patrol, with the hiring of 20,000 new agents, the purchase of 12 new unmanned surveillance drones and the construction of 350 miles of new fencing, to bring the total to 700 miles.