By Justin Sink - 01/28/13 10:57 PM EST
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday that he would like to see the implementation of high-tech border solutions — including drone aircraft — as part of a comprehensive immigration reform deal.
"A pre-condition is secure borders, and we have not done that," McCain told Fox News on Monday. "Now our borders are more secure, but they are by no means secure. In Arizona, the Sonora border is the major drug trafficking route for the drug cartels bringing drugs into the United States."
"We have to use a lot of high-tech — we’ve got to use drones, we’ve got to do a lot of things to get that border secure, but that must be done," McCain said.
The Senate immigration plan debuted by McCain and a bipartisan group of colleagues Monday calls for a commission of border state officials that would develop a standard for border security.
Under the legislation, those officials would be empowered to delay any pathway to citizenship for illegal immigratns if they were dissatisfied by federal efforts to protect the border.
That condition was not included in President Obama's immigration reform plan, and it represents the largest break between the White House and Senate plans. Asked repeatedly during his daily press briefing if the president would approve of linking the two measures, press secretary Jay Carney repeatedly ducked.
"We're not at a stage here where we're ... we're gonna negotiate details of legislation that doesn't yet exist," Carney said. "I think what is positive about this discussion is that bipartisan group in the Senate has embraced the principles that the president has long put forward and espoused."
Asked if he thought fully securing the borders was a realistic goal on Monday, McCain scoffed.
“Is it not realistic to think that a nation such as ours could ... secure our borders? Is that not realistic? Come on. Of course we can secure our borders," McCain said.
"To think somehow that we are going to have a situation where drugs can flow freely over our border is something that I don’t think most of our citizens would agree [with], particularly since we spent so many billions of dollars on surveillance and that kind of thing," he added.