Immigration bill heads to full Senate

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By DAVID ESPO and ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A far-reaching bill to remake the nation's troubled immigration system is headed to the full Senate after approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Floor debate is expected to start early next month, with the outcome uncertain.

The vote Tuesday in the Judiciary Committee was 13-5, with three Republicans joining all committee Democrats in supporting the measure.

It followed last-minute suspense as the committee's chairman, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, announced he would withdraw a gay marriage amendment that seemed certain to splinter support for the bill.

There was also a late-breaking compromise reached with the high-tech industry over visas for highly skilled workers.

The immigration bill adds new worker programs and enforcement, and contains a path to citizenship for 11 million people here illegally.

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