Later Tuesday, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.
“This bill will first and foremost create a path to earned citizenship, not amnesty,” Kaine said. “Undocumented individuals will have to meet several stringent requirements such as, paying fees and fines, passing national security and criminal background checks, paying their taxes and learning English.”
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty over 10 years for the nearly 11 million undocumented residents before strengthening border enforcement.
Democrats have praised part of the bill that would grant citizenship to young people, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country by their parents without legal documentation.
In his speech, Kaine told the story of a Dreamer from his state, Isabel Castillo.
“This is one example of many as to why we need to pass an immigration bill,” Kaine said. “For students and families, such as Isabel’s, this is about their future.”
The Senate is expected to continue work on the Gang of Eight's immigration bill throughout June.