The U.S. Senate today approved an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would direct the building of a triple-layer fence along 370 miles of the southern border with Mexico.

The 83-16 vote included a call for 500 miles of vehicle barriers.

Construction of the fence would send “a signal that open-border days are over. … Good fences make good neighbors, fences don’t make bad neighbors,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

Session noted border areas where barriers already exist have enjoyed a reduction in crime and improvement in the economy.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., opposed the fence, saying, “What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics,” adding that if the fence were ultimately approved, “our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries.”

The Senate today also voted down an attempt to remove from the larger bill a provision giving illegal aliens in the U.S. for more than two years a path to become citizens. The proposal to remove what some lawmakers consider amnesty was defeated 66-33.

Earlier today, the Senate OK’d a measure that would bar illegal aliens with criminal records from becoming legal residents or U.S. citizens.

Though the immigration-reform measure nearly died last month, observers see it passing the Senate in some form next week. The current House version of the bill does not include the privilege for illegal aliens to eventually become citizens.

Fence supporters hailed today’s news.

“For the first time since the Senate began debating immigration reform legislation, there is now a bill that deserves support and has a chance of gaining passage,” said Colin Hanna, president of, in a statement.

As WorldNetDaily reported, some border-activist groups have made plans to build border barriers with private money since the federal government to date has been reluctant to do so.

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