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McCain and Kyl Retreat on Solution to Illegal Immigration, But Not on Politics as Usual

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Washington, DC – Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) represent a state that is the poster child for the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  Both have supported an approach to a reform package that combines border security, a crackdown on illegal hiring, a path to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally, and reforms to the legal immigration system as the real solution to our broken immigration system.  But today they introduced enforcement-only legislation that at its best is more of the same, and at its worst represents the kind of pandering to the far right that has doomed Republicans with Latino voters over the past five years. 

To add insult to injury, when Senator McCain was asked about a sweeping and controversial anti-immigrant bill making its way to the Arizona Governor’s desk this week – a measure that requires police to ask about immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion” and has been opposed by those who fear it will mean open season on all Latinos living in the state – he said, “I think it’s a very important step forward.”  This comes on the heels of Senator Kyl’s recent threat to filibuster a Schumer-Graham bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, one whose basic architecture is similar to the Kyl-backed bill that failed to pass the Senate in 2007.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “John McCain used to argue that the best way to get control of our broken immigration system is with comprehensive reform – including a path to citizenship.  Now he proposes an enforcement-only bill that calls for measures already in place and says that the worst anti-immigrant, hostile-to-Hispanics law in the U.S. is a step forward.  What a sad day.  Obviously, John McCain is fighting for his political life in Arizona.  I sure miss the days when he fought for his principles.”

He added, “Senator Kyl is a member of the Senate leadership and comes from a state in which illegal immigration is a top issue, but the best he can do is offer warmed over ideas and the threat of a filibuster?  No wonder Americans are sick of politicians more interested in scoring cheap political points than in solving tough problems.  It also speaks volumes about how the Republican Party seems more interested in pandering to its far right than it is in reaching out to the fastest growing group of new voters in the nation.” 

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.