September 23rd, 2008
07:23 PM ET
15 years ago

Fact Check: Is Obama ad right on McCain's immigration stance?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. McCain spoke to a Latino political group in June."]
The Statement:

In an Obama campaign Spanish-language radio ad aimed at Latino voters that aired in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada during the second week of September, the narrator says, "John McCain abandoned us on immigration reform rather than confront the leaders of the Republican Party."

Does Obama's radio ad accurately describe McCain on immigration?

The Facts:

McCain has backed away from his earlier efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform. In 2005, he teamed with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, to push for a major immigration overhaul bill that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The effort was never voted on in the Senate, and a similar fate befell a 2007 compromise bill that McCain also supported. McCain's endorsement of broad immigration reform legislation angered some conservatives and nearly derailed his presidential campaign in 2007.

At a Republican primary debate in January 2008, McCain was asked whether he would still vote for his own original measure. "No, I would not," he said, " ... because we know what the situation is today ... that people want the borders secured first."

McCain has moved border security to the top of his list of immigration issues, with his Web site saying that is his primary immigration priority. Other issues such as temporary worker programs and increasing available green card numbers can be dealt with "once the borders are secure," the site says.

McCain's votes on immigration-related measures in recent years have created a patchwork of positions rather than a clear platform. In 2006 McCain voted for building a fence along the Mexican border but also voted for allowing illegal immigrants to take part in Social Security and for a guest worker program that would have created a path to citizenship for working illegal immigrants. His current proposals range from requiring illegal immigrants to enroll in a status program, undergo criminal background checks and either seek legal residency or leave the country. Other proposals he is supporting include efforts to reunite families separated by immigration issues and the expediting of cases involving children.

The Verdict:

Mixed. While McCain has backed off his support of sweeping immigration reform, he has continued to endorse some immigration initiatives supported by Latino groups.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • Immigration • John McCain
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