Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., announced Thursday he would support pending immigration legislation if the Senate approves an amendment crafted this week to enhance the border security provisions of the underlying bill.
Kirk, from the traditionally blue state of Illinois, surprised many political observers when he voted against opening debate on the legislation, which he said at the time did not have strong border control measures.
"Over the last few days, I worked with my colleagues to craft a two-step immigration reform that first secures our southern border and then creates a tough but fair path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the United States," Kirk said in a statement. "This bipartisan compromise will restore the people's trust in our ability to control the border and bring 525,000 people in Illinois out of the shadows. Once the Senate adopts our amendment, I will be proud to vote for a bill that secures our border and respects our heritage as an immigrant nation."
The compromise amendment on border security also includes a proposal to grant citizenship to any immigrant who earns a Combat Infantry Badge in the U.S. military, according to his office. Kirk served in the Navy Reserve.