an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk said he plans to vote for the comprehensive immigration reform bill being debated in
the Senate if a new border security amendment Thursday passes.
The amendment, which Kirk said meets his
border security standards, by U.S. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven
(R-ND) was hatched out by some of the Gang of Eight senators in efforts to boost Republican support for the overall bill. The amendment would double the number of border patrol agents on the force. It also
requires that a 700-mile fence at the border with Mexico be finished
before undocumented immigrants can earn legal status, among other
provisions. Under the proposed measure, undocumented immigrants can get
provisional legal status before the security measures are met.
decision is should the border security amendment pass, I will be able
to support the final legislation because then I will be able to assure
the people of Illinois that the border is well covered with 21,000
border agents added, one every thousand feet, I think we got the border
covered,” Kirk said.
Kirk previously voted against starting floor discussion on the immigration bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act Of 2013, SB 744.
And on Wednesday, Chicago community groups held an all-day vigil at Dirksen Federal Plaza calling on the senator to support immigration reform.
of the new compromise measure comes as the Senate voted to reject a tougher border
security amendment by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Thursday by a
54-43 vote. Kirk had previously said he was in support of Cornyn's border security proposal.
The Cornyn amendment would have required four "triggers," such as a 90 percent apprehension rate at the southern U.S. border,
to be engaged before undocumented immigrants could gain legal status, among other provisions.
A new Public Policy Poll found that a majority of Illinois residents at least somewhat support the Senate immigration reform bill. Seventy-two percent of those polled at least support the bill, with 46 percent strongly supporting it. Seventy-five percent of the Democrats polled approved of the bill, while 69 percent of the Republicans and Independents surveyed supported the bill.
When it comes to how the immigration reform bill could impact Kirk's support, 41 percent of those polled said they would be less likely to support the lawmaker if he blocks passage of the Senate bill. The surveys were conducted June 15 and June 16, with 548 registered voter participants.