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updated: 6/20/2013 2:50 PM

Kirk will back immigration plan with changes

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  • Senator Mark Kirk. 2013 photo

      Senator Mark Kirk. 2013 photo

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he'll support a sweeping immigration reform package after additional border security measures are attached.

The Highland Park Republican has faced heavy criticism from immigration advocates, business leaders and others for previous votes against further debate for the proposal.

But he says an addition to the legislation that would double the patrols on the border with Mexico and finish building 700 miles of fence would turn him into a supporter.

"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."

Previously, immigration reform advocates had tried to suggest Republicans' electoral future in Illinois depended on Kirk's support of the legislation as the rising number of Latino voters in the state tends to lean toward Democrats.

Kirk is the most prominent GOP elected official in Illinois.

A Kirk spokesman said it's unclear when a vote on the measure would come.

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