April 26th, 2010
06:24 PM ET
8 years ago

McCain defends Arizona's immigration law

Sen. John McCain addressed his home state's controversial immigration law on Monday.

Sen. John McCain addressed his home state's controversial immigration law on Monday.

Washington (CNN) - Sen. John McCain defended his state's controversial immigration law, arguing Monday on the Senate floor that Arizona needed to approve the tough new measure to ensure the safety of its citizens.

"This situation is the worst I've ever seen," declared McCain. "If you don't like the bill - the legislation that the legislature passed and the governor signed in Arizona, then carry out the federal responsibilities, which are to secure the border."

McCain is locked in tough primary battle, and immigration has become a central issue.

He recently released a 10-point plan for the federal government to tighten the Arizona-Mexican border. It calls for the completion of 700 miles of fencing and assigning 3,000 National Guard troops to the region.

"This is a struggle on our side of the border for the fundamental obligation that any government has, and that is to provide its citizens with secure borders. Right now our citizens are not safe," he said.

Signed into law on Friday, the Arizona measure requires police to determine whether a person is in the United States legally, and immigrants will need to carry their alien registration documents at all times. Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling, a notion both Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and McCain dismiss.

"Many have viewed this as a civil rights issue. There's no intention whatsoever to violate anyone's civil rights," said McCain. "But this is a national security issue. This is a national security issue where the United
States of America has an unsecured border between Arizona and Mexico, which has
led to violence."

McCain previously led congressional efforts to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which would have included new border security along with a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented workers. That legislation faltered in 2007, but not before McCain was lambasted for his position by many fellow

One critic, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, is now forcefully challenging McCain in the Republican primary, highlighting his opponent's prior support for comprehensive immigration reform. Hayworth is running to McCain's right and showcasing their differences - past and present - on the issue.

Filed under: 2010 • Arizona • Immigration • John McCain • Popular Posts
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Kathleen

    Whatever! I'm sorry to say this, but John McCain changes with the tide.
    And, what kind of man would have Sarah Palin stand beside him to get his message across, unless they think exactly alike? Otherwise who would need her?

    April 26, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. anotherGDlefty

    Johnny boy, I'm in Phoenix and you have been our employee for over 2 decades. You have just noticed that the southern border is a problem ?

    Let's just start calling JD the puppet master....he's got Johnny dancing in so many directions he doesn't know what he believes anymore.

    What you your plan before this primary challenge and redundant law Johnny McFlipflop ? Oh yeah....amnesty.

    April 26, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Mark

    1.5 years ago McCain would of strongly apposed such bill but now he's no longer a presidential candidate he can say what ever he pleases.

    April 26, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. capt snarky

    I agree – secure the border. The President and Napolitano have had a year and a half to do so, and have sat on their hands. One can only assume that they are fine with the flood of illegal aliens coming across the border daily, hence their reaction to AZ taking the border issue into it's own hands. I can only guess what illegal acts the President and the Homeland Security head want so many illegal aliens in our country for................

    Any of you progressives care to respond???????

    April 26, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. No Incumbents 2010

    McInsane is a tired, old demogogue career politician who will change positions on a whim if it will help him get re-elected. By pandering to the racist xenophobic nutwing fringe who support this divisive law, McInsane has now written off all Hispanic voters. McInsane apparently wants to turn the US Senate into his own personal nursing home with aides doing everything for him. Robert Byrd is his hero. Mandatory racial profiling will not solve the immigration issue. Only comprehensive reform with additional guest worker visas will help solve the problem. This race to the fringe on the GOP side will only produce an unelectable nominee in November. The racist law in Arizona has awaken Hispanic voters to take action. Only ignorant bigots would blame immigrants for every social ill.

    April 26, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Choice is clear

    MCcain is playing to the neo cons in arizona. If he stands a chance against JD Hayworthless in the primary. He needs their blessing I guess. So much for the Maverick doing it hisssssss wayyyyyyyyy.

    April 26, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Jeff Spangler

    What is so un-American about requiring illegal aliens to go home, get in line like millions of legal immigrants before them, and wait in line for their turn to become residents in our country which is governed by the equal application of rules of law? Why does their successful violation of our immigration laws confer any special privilege upon them like a "path to citizenship" (a/k/a amnesty)?

    April 26, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. normajean

    Now that the immigration problem in really out of hand, McCain is asking for federal help. Why didn't he do that when he was govenor. This problem has been growing for years and the Bush administration ignored it. Most thinking people don't wait until a problem with home and family becomes insurmountable before they say "Hey, guess we better do something about that".Let's hope there is a workable answer before this gets any worse.

    April 26, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  9. Brian L

    Who will pay for the fence senator? Who will pay for the 3,000 new border guards? If the Dems pass it then your TEA party friends will protest the funding for it...... You Republicans want more and more but never want to pay for ANYTHING..... that sir is a FACT

    April 26, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Terry From West Texas

    We have got to stop using the National Guard as our off-the-books errand boy. Those Guardsmen did not sign up for duty in Iraq or Arizona. If the border is worth protecting, and it needs 3,000 people to protect it, then let's hire 3,000 more Border Patrolmen. Let's also raise taxes to pay for it instead of borrowing more money from China for our grandkids to deal with.

    McCain's proposal is gutless, but you seldom find courage and Conservatism in the same person.

    April 26, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Matt

    Obama doesn't care about the citizens of this country, when doing something means losing some voters. Just recently a U.S. citizen was murdered on his own land near the Mexican border by an illegal alien, they followed shoe prints from where he and his dog were both shot in the head, and they led back towards the Mexican border. So we have a U.S. citizen that was murdered, and Obama wants to give amnesty????????????????????????????? What happened to protecting americans from harm or worse, death? Doesn't our taxdollars go to our government so we can be protected? I guess Obama doesn't want to protect americans, he's only concerned with getting elected.

    April 26, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. barryg

    Let's see if I get this right. The State of Arizona passed this law because the federal goverment took no action. Isn't this one of the states that complains that government is too big?, and stay out of our business, yet now they are violating thousands of individuals civil rights which are granted by the Constitution. Come on John where is the "Maverick" you claim to be? Running a little chicken now?

    April 26, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. Steve

    John, do you also support the "birther" law, which was recently passed by the august Arizona Legislature?

    As you know, the immigration law has nothing to do with securing the Arizona/Mexico border to enhance national security, or to reduce the murder rate in Arizona. And it will not be enforced by the police because federal civil rights lawyers will be carefully reviewing each arrest.

    John, is there anything you will not say or stoop down to. Is it worth it to get reelected?

    No disrespect intended, John, but most of the rest of the country is laughing out loud at the Arizona Legislature and the state's weak governor.

    April 26, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Michael from Ventura

    Oh John..........Please retire. No one can keep up with your changes of heart- nor do we want to. The bill signed by the Governor of Arizona is a giant step backwards. It makes one think that the Civil Rights movement didn't get the point across. They DID- you republicants just don't get it.

    April 26, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. James Thompson

    Translation: We will continue to take away your freedoms until the federal government builds a fence. NICE

    April 26, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Future expat

    CNN I saw the segment you had on Friday showing how McCain switches his position based on the race he's in. That was awesome.

    April 26, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Dan

    Good, in the era of "political correctness over safety and national security" it is about time citizens protect their basic rights as citizens!

    April 26, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. Marie

    OOOOPS John big mistake you'll never be reelected ever!!!!!! voting against our new latino supreme court justice placed the nail in the coffin for you and now this just hammered the nails down !!! the coffin is closed and your done...;legal Latinos and hispanic will never forgive you.Bringing Palin as your running mate was not lesson enough for you so you just can't learn can ?

    April 26, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  19. David

    So basically your plan is to increase the size of government and increase the costs to the taxpayer, thus increase the debt. Doing simple math your suggested federal action would cost hundreds of millions of dollars (not to mention the cost of the fence) per year for Arizona alone.

    April 26, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Randy

    Would it not be easier to go after companies that hire the illegal labor? If you knew that you could not get a job here then there would be no reason to come here. Certainly these poor people would not risk there lives to come to the US if they could not make a living. The problem is that they know they can find work and guess what...free healthcare to boot! Don't believe me just go to the emergency room at any border city hospital. It just doesn't seem that difficult to figure out.

    April 26, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. Rick

    The homeland security secretary should go back and sit in her corner because her and her boss has made this country less safe where we have to worry about our lives and all the illegals. Time to close the borders and send them all home, even obama and the rest of his illegal administration and family.

    April 26, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. Sue

    John McCain has changed his position so often in bowing to the extreme right that he doesn't know what he thinks any longer.

    April 26, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. Barbara - Canadian

    There's a survey on CNN's Politics page – about whether this new bill will hurt Arizona's economy.

    Well... from a Canadian snowbird's point of view – absolutely!

    In order for the law to be carried out (without profiling) – anyone can be challenged to provide proof of residency – including the LARGE number of winter residents from the North who support your economy for six months of the year. Considering that Arizona seems to be in the forefront of legislation aimed at questioning the validity of your own President's legality... I think we'll pass.

    Know what? -Florida looks great for next winter!!!

    April 26, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. Gordon Shumway

    Arizona has the balls to do what Bush and now Obama are afraid to do - Protect our Borders! They should both be embarrassed and admit their lack of fortitude. In both cases all they cared about were the mexican votes, not our security.

    April 26, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. Paul

    They (the GOP) have once again played dirty games with the Latino Community. It is sad how so called politicians use an entire community for political purposes. Just a reminder to them: Don't forget that we also vote and what you have done against our people will be reflected in november. Enough of you NOpers

    April 26, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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