Immigration reform seems to be on its last leg thanks to bipartisan squabbling in the Senate. Last Friday the Senate voted down a compromise bipartisan plan that would have created a temporary worker program and paved the way for more than seven million illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

The Senate did a test vote on this bill and a rival measure, but both failed to gain enough support. This shows how difficult it may be to enact any type of immigration reform in a hotly contested mid-term congressional election year.

Even if the Senate were able to pass a bill, it would have to be merged with a much more stringent House of Representatives bill that stresses border security and defines all of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country as felons.

The compromise Senate deal was struck despite opposition by some Republicans who said giving millions of illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship would reward them for breaking the law by entering the country without proper papers.

The compromise bill would divide illegal immigrants into three groups. The first group of more than 7 million who have lived in the country for five years or more would get a chance to earn U.S. citizenship by paying a fine, paying taxes, learning English and meeting other requirements.

About 3 million who have lived in the United States less than five but more than two years could apply for work visas, but would have to travel to a U.S. port of entry to pick them up. Those in the country for less than two years, roughly 1.5 million, would have to leave and apply to return., Reuters