Labor unions oppose the Arizona immigration law because some of them want to legalize then recruit illegals into their ranks, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday. 

McCain specifically mentioned the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as one union that wants to engage in the practice since it represents many people who work in the tourism industry, which he said employs many illegal immigrants. 


”They want to have them declared legal to recruit them into unions,” he said in an appearance on the conservative Michael Medved radio show. 

The Arizona senator’s comments are likely to fuel the ongoing debate over his state’s controversial immigration law. A federal judge on Wednesday granted the U.S. government an injunction against its key provisions, frustrating its supporters, including McCain. 

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee called the decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton “a paradoxical and contrary position that I have a hard time understanding.”

Labor unions have been some of the staunchest critics of the Arizona law, arguing that it would result in racial discrimination.

"What we need is for Republican leaders like John Mcain to stop testing the political winds of expediency and start working with Democrats to replace chaos with order and restore the rule of law," SEIU spokesperson Ali Jost responded. "The alternative -- a 50 state patchwork of conflicting state laws--won't deliver the solutions that Americans are demanding."

In her decision, Bolton argued that the law posed “a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new [law]” therefore putting a “ ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

But McCain argued that the law was simply a response to federal inaction in securing the border. 

“It was bred out of the frustration of the federal government’s failure to get our border secured,” he said. 

He predicted that the state would challenge Bolton’s decision and that the case would eventually reach the Supreme Court.

This post was updated at 4:48 p.m.