Conservative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly finally has given supporters of the Senate's immigration-reform bill his ringing endorsement.
"It is time for the USA to pass immigration reform. For years I've called for a more secure southern border. You know that. And now it looks like the secure border is in reach. At least somewhat. So I hope this bill does become law," O'Reilly said Thursday night on his Fox News “Talking Points" program.
His endorsement followed passage earlier in the day of a border-security amendment authored by Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee. It calls for doubling the Border Patrol force in the Southwest to 40,000 and for building another 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border. In addition, it calls for installing systems to help track immigrants who do cross the border illegally.
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O'Reilly said the overall immigration bill, which would allow the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country to work and become citizens, likely would take years to fully implement.
"Sen. [Marco] Rubio told me on the phone today that it would be at least 13 years — 13 — before people in the country illegally right now could gain full legal working status, and even longer to achieve citizenship," O'Reilly noted.
Rubio, who has struggled to overcome criticism from both the right and left concerning his work on the immigration measure, was quick to issue a statement touting O'Reilly's endorsement. The news release
from the Florida Republican simply restated in O'Reilly's words the reasons why Americans should support the Senate bill.
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