As lawmakers get closer to a bipartisan compromise on immigration reform, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said Thursday he would back a plan that toughens border security.
"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," Kirk said in a statement.
The Illinois senator said the proposed measure needs to secure the southern border with more people and better security and create a "tough but fair path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the United States."
The compromise amendment would require 20,000 new border security agents, advanced technology for border surveillance, the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border and a visa entry-exit system at all air and seaports.
"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," Kirk said.
Last week former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and local business leaders singled out Kirk in a letter to the state's congressional delegation, urging him to back the measure.
“I hope dearly that they will hear the voice of business large and small and do what is right," Former Exelon CEO John Rowe said. "I thank Senator Durbin for his leadership and hope that Senator Kirk will soon join him on the front lines in the push for common sense immigration reform.”
Kirk voted against the Senate opening debate on immigration reform, something he said back in 2010 he'd vote against.