Beyond its authors, the Senate bipartisan plan for immigration reform has found few friends in the Republican Party. Even Florida Republican Marco Rubio, a member of the so-called Gang of Eight that wrote the 1,000-page bill, has suggested he might not vote for it unless more border security is added. In this environment, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte’s decision to back the legislation and be a vocal advocate for it is especially laudable.
Ayotte is currently under fire for catering to the National Rifle Association in voting against expanded background checks on gun buyers, which makes her willingness to challenge conservative orthodoxy on immigration all the more notable. She is the first Republican outside the Gang of Eight to come out in favor of reform, while about 95 percent of Senate Democrats are believed to support it. The true test will come in the House, where, as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul put it on Fox News Sunday, the plan has “zero chances of passing.” But, after decades of debate, no solution on immigration will ever pass without bold, bipartisan moves like Ayotte’s, and others should take notice.