Every once in awhile, Sen. Mark Kirk reminds us he’s a Republican. So he did Thursday, when he was one of 15 senators -- all members of his party -- to vote against beginning debate on an immigration reform bill. Kirk wants a more secure border with Mexico before addressing immigration, he said in a statement on his website.
I support 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. I have always believed that is the recipe for bipartisan consensus on this issue. Once we restore the public’s trust in our government’s ability to control the border, we can move forward with other reforms.
That is why I was disappointed to hear the Majority Leader dismiss a constructive border security amendment set to be introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) as a “poison pill” before the text of the amendment had even been released.
Sen. Cornyn’s proposal would do exactly what proponents of the current legislation say they support – require border security first and then proceed with other reforms.
Kirk represents the most Democratic state of any Republican senator, so he’s getting a lot of heat here in Illinois. (Kirk was one of only two blue-state senators to vote against cloture, along with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa). Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said it was “unconscionable” for an Illinois senator to vote against immigration reform. Ald. Danny Solis said this vote, along with Kirk’s proposal to round up 18,000 Gangster Disciples, makes him wonder, "Is there something about Senator Kirk where he doesn't respect minorities?"
However you feel about Kirk’s vote, you can’t say it was unexpected. During his 2010 Senate campaign, Kirk told the Tribune editorial board
that he would not support granting legal status to undocumented immigrants until the Mexican border was secure.
"The faith and trust of the American people in the administration of our border is broken. That has to be rebuilt," Kirk said at the time. "If you don't complete the first step, you will not be able to get to the second."
Kirk is the most liberal Republican senator. But he’s still a Republican senator, which means he’s not going to be liberal 100 percent of the time.