McCain to Obama: Send troops to border if you don't like new immigration law

President Barack Obama should dispatch National Guard troops to the border if he doesn’t like Arizona’s new immigration law, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday.

McCain, who endorsed the tough new Arizona law earlier this week, defended it as necessary because of the federal government’s inability to secure the border.

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“If the president doesn’t like what the Arizona Legislature and governor may be doing, then I call on the president to immediately call for the dispatch of 3,000 National Guard troops to our border and mandate that 3,000 additional Border Patrol [officers] be sent to our border as well,” McCain said at a news conference Friday in downtown Phoenix, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.

“And that way, then the state of Arizona will not have to enact legislation which they have to do because of the federal government’s failure to carry out its responsibilities, which is to secure the borders.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Friday that allows police to stop and question anyone they believe may be in the country illegally.

Brewer’s signature immediately set off a firestorm of criticism from Hispanic groups, who say the new law will infringe upon the civil liberties of people who are citizens of the United States or who are in the country legally.

Phoenix’s Democratic mayor has threatened to sue the state, and other groups are looking at economic boycotts of Arizona.

Hours before Brewer offered her signature, Obama criticized the effort as “misguided” and said it “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

McCain has twice been involved in legislative efforts to boost border security while creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but has taken a hard turn this year and is talking almost exclusively about security.

The reason is the tough primary challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who on Friday criticized McCain in his own reaction to Brewer’s decision.

“As John McCain and others serving in Washington have alternated between inaction and amnesty, Arizona acted decisively today to enforce the rule of law and truly secure our border,” Hayworth said in the statement.

The fight in Arizona seems likely to put immigration reform on the Senate’s agenda, though it is unclear if any legislation can make it through the chamber as both parties eye the 2010 midterm elections.