Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) voted twice against the Gang of 8 immigration bill working its way through the Senate last week, and immigration reform advocates have been calling him out on it ever since.
“Sen. Mark Kirk, where are you?” asked a Chicago Tribune editorial of his position on immigration reform.
Kirk is often hailed as a moderate—he supported gun-control legislation and was one of only two GOP senators to back marriage equality this year. But he refused to support the Gang of 8 immigration bill without additional border security measures like John Cornyn’s enforcement amendment—which is widely considered to be a poison pill. Many other Republicans expressed similar concerns, but still voted to bring the bill to the floor last week, with 28 Republicans joining Democrats in the 82-15 vote to begin debate.
Since then, the response has been scathing.
“We were actually really baffled and disappointed by the two votes he took,” said Laura Vasquez, an immigration legislative analyst at NCLR, to the Wall Street Journal. “Even with the votes he had taken in the past, he still really looks like an outlier.”
“We plan to let Senator Kirk know that we are disappointed in his vote yesterday,” said Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “While we understand that Senator Kirk, like each Senator, has amendments he would like to see included in the bill, bi-partisan immigration reform is a serious effort to address a national crisis that is undermining Illinois families, workplaces, and communities. It deserves serious debate and an up or down vote.”
Public Policy Polling released a survey last week finding that 78% of Illinois voters support immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and that 61% are more likely to support lawmakers to vote for the legislation (20% are less likely and 8% say it wont influence their vote). Business groups, Illinois elected officials, and some of Kirk’s fellow Senators are still attempting to move him to support the bill.