Sen. Kelly Ayotte Backs Immigration Overhaul

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has announced she will back a bipartisan immigration overhaul plan in a move that will likely lend momentum to the measure currently being debated in the Senate.

Ayotte, who was elected to office in 2010, is the first Republican to endorse the bill, aside from its original backers from the Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight.”

Ayotte is a former prosecutor and New Hampshire attorney general. She announced on CBS’s Face the Nation, “Our immigration system is completely broken. This is a thoughtful, bipartisan solution to a tough problem.”

The senator added that she hopes more high-tech workers will be admitted into the US to ensure that the country will have the “best and brightest here … to grow our economy.” She also praised the bill’s pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are already in the country, but don’t have legal status.

The pathway to citizenship, which Ayotte called “tough but fair,” would require illegal immigrants to “go to the back of the line, pay taxes, pass a criminal background check, learn English.”

Several amendments will face voting in the Senate, including a key test vote on Tuesday, before the legislative body votes on the final bill. That vote will likely happen at the end of June. At least 60 votes are needed for passage to keep the bill from being filibustered. Ayotte’s support of the immigration reform bill adds one more to the threshold needed.

But while the immigration bill has a chance of passing in the Senate, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) cautioned that the bill “has zero chances of passing in the House.” Paul added that he doesn’t like the bill’s cap on immigration workers. He also would not create a new path to citizenship for those who are already in the US on work visas.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte also explained her support of the sweeping immigration reform bill on her website, writing, “The status quo isn’t working. It’s de facto amnesty. We need immigration reform that serves the best interests of our country.” Under the new bill, the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country would face a 13-year path to citizenship.

Do you agree with the immigration reform bill the Senate is currently debating? How would you like to see immigration work in the United States?

[Image via United States Senate]