McCain defends creation of Arizona immigration law after Supreme Court ruling

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McCain's floor speech came hours after the Supreme Court on Monday shot down three of four key provisions in a controversial Arizona immigration law, S.B. 1070. The court ruled that provisions allowing law enforcement to arrest foreigners suspected of having committed a deportable offense, making it illegal for immigrants to work in the country, and outlawing the hiring of illegal immigrants were all unconstitutional.

But the Supreme Court did not rule one provision — perhaps the most controversial in the law — allowing law enforcement to check the immigration status of people suspected of committing non-immigration offenses as unconstitutional. The court, instead, left the possibility of legal challenges to that provision in the future, open.

McCain said "the irony" of the whole episode, from the immigration law's inception to the ruling on Monday was that it was because of the federal government's failure to properly enforce border security. 

"The irony of all this is that the state of Arizona acted because the federal government wouldn't act, because our borders were broken, because the people in the southern part of our state were living in fear that a rancher was killed by someone who crossed our border illegally," McCain said. "Because the federal government would not secure our borders, then the state of Arizona felt it had to act because people in the southern part of our state and other parts of our state were living in fear.

"They were living in fear because of the drug dealers that were coming across, because of the coyotes and the mistreatment of the people they were bringing. Of course we want to address the issue of children who were born here, but we also have an obligation to have our border secured."

Hopefully, McCain said, the Supreme Court ruling today would result in the Obama administration moving swiftly on immigration reform.

"I hope as a result of this decision that the administration will actually get serious about securing our border," McCain said.

McCain said that he was open to comprehensive immigration reform, but Democrats, who had promised to make it a top priority when they had a supermajority early in the Obama administration, never followed through.

In response, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the other of Democrat-supported immigration reform legislation, said that Democrats were never able to pass immigration reform because of the threat of a Republican filibuster.

"It can't get past the first step because of a Republican filibuster," Durbin said.