Last week, Democrats helped defeat an amendment that would have required the U.S-Mexican border to be controlled for six months before any undocumented workers could get legal status. Supporters of the underlying bill say that would have tanked the entire proposal. Now supporters are eying other amendments ranging from health care to gay rights.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine says it's good the debate is open even though some lawmakers are trying to unwind the bill.
"There will be some amendments that will be attempts to kill the bill, but there will be a lot of amendments that will be good faith efforts to improve it, either to get more votes in the Senate or get more votes potentially in the house," says Kaine.
Both parties face a backlash from the Hispanic community if immigration reform fails, but Kaine says Republicans have more to lose if their party blocks the effort.
"The immigrant communities that I talked to are very aware that 90 percent of Dems are on board, and huge percentages of the other side are not," he says. "The fact that in the past, it wasn't 100 percent of Dems on board, people understood there was generally a party trying to fix the problem and a party trying to stand in the way. That's what's encouraging about the Gang of Eight, having significant Republican leadership right from the start."
The immigration reform bill is expected to consume the Senate for the coming weeks.