Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte said she’ll back a bipartisan rewrite of immigration law pending in the U.S. Senate.
The bill offers a “tough but fair” process for allowing undocumented immigrants to have a pathway to citizenship, Ayotte said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. It also improves border security and verification of immigrant worker status, while increasing visas for skilled workers, she said.
“This is a good bipartisan solution, and I look forward to supporting it,” said Ayotte, who was elected from New Hampshire in 2010 with support from the Tea Party movement.
Ayotte’s backing puts the legislation, which would be the most sweeping changes in the nation’s immigration law in a generation, closer to the 60-vote threshold needed for Senate consideration. The chamber is scheduled to continue debate on the measure this week and Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has said he wants the legislation completed before the July 4 congressional recess.
The legislation would try to balance a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, sought by Democrats, with enough border-security improvements to satisfy Republicans.
Four Republicans are part of a group of eight senators that authored the measure, though one of them, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has said it should have stronger border-security provisions. Rubio, a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, has said it can’t pass as written and that even he would have to vote against it.
A fifth Republican, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, voted for the bill during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing May 22. If all of the Senate’s Democratic members of the chamber vote for the bill, it will probably have enough votes to overcome a filibuster, with Ayotte’s support.
Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, described the bill as “amnesty first and the promise of enforcement later,” when the Senate began debate on the measure June 7. Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, has said Congress should approach immigration reform “incrementally.”
A cloture motion to bring Senate debate to a close is scheduled for June 11.
The legislation is S. 744.
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