The U.S. Senate's passage of an immigration reform bill Thursday sends the debate to the U.S. House of Representatives, where the legislation's future is far less certain and where lawmakers representing the Quad-Cities will play a less consequential role.
Still, local backers of immigration reform are keeping up the pressure. They will take part in a rally this weekend to generate support for the legislation.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday by a wide margin, 68 to 32.
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, all voted for the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a key Republican opponent, voted against it.
Before the vote, Durbin, one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight that drafted the original legislation, dedicated his vote to his late mother, the child of Lithuanian immigrants. In a statement, Durbin's office said the bill "finishes the job" of securing the border and sets up a "rational approach" to future immigration.
Grassley, while criticizing the bill as offering legalization without border security first, expressed hope that a "better product" will come out of a conference committee with the House.
Grassley has said he thinks a House bill will be more to his liking than the Senate legislation. He said the Senate bill fell short on several fronts, including protecting American workers revamping the system of granting visas to foreign workers.
It's not clear how the more conservative House will deal with the matter.
Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, is a prominent critic of the Senate legislation. He called it "amnesty."
Meanwhile, the two lawmakers representing the Quad-Cities have said relatively little about the issue, even as the Senate has debated the bill for weeks.
In a statement Thursday, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said she thinks immigration reform is needed and it should be "tough, fair and realistic." She said she is "encouraged that the Senate came together and passed a bipartisan bill toward that goal."
Bustos said she would discuss the bill's details with people in her district, including law enforcement.
In his own statement, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, noted the bipartisan vote Thursday and said House Speaker John Boehner should now put the Senate legislation up for a vote in the House.
"I have said all along any legislation must secure our borders, and the Senate legislation takes significant steps to do so," he said. He added it also takes steps to "honor our proud history as a nation of immigrants."
The Senate's passage comes a few days before Quad-City immigration activists plan a rally.
The "Dream for All" event will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island. It is being organized by Quad-Cities Interfaith, which is being joined in the effort by several other groups.
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Quad-Cities Interfaith said it is "critical that our faith communities gather to show support for legislation that will provide a clear and achievable path to citizenship and stop the separation of families."
Margie Mejia-Caraballo, who chairs the organization's immigration committee, said she is confident of the bill's prospects in the House because of how far the legislation has come.
She said the time for passage is now.
"We've waited long enough," she said.
Quad-Cities Interfaith has been working on the issue for 15 years, she said.
The featured speaker at the rally will be Pedro Lopez, a Postville, Iowa, resident whose mother was deported after the 2008 federal raid there.
The Quad-City Federation of Labor, Casa Guanajuato, World Relief, Quad-City Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees and LULAC also are participating in the event.