McCain favors immigration reform that would deport ‘many’ illegal residents

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
said Tuesday he would favor immigration reform that would deport many of the
residents of the United States who are here illegally.

McCain, who at one
point had been the top Republican advocate for immigration legislation
promising a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, said he favored
establishing a guest worker program. But McCain expressed opposition to any
program that would give illegal immigrants a way to become citizens.

“No amnesty. Many of them
need to be sent back,” McCain said during an interview on KQTH-FM in Tucson,

Once the border is secured,
McCain said, “a temporary legal worker program has to be part” of immigration
reform. But he made it clear that program would be for those who want to enter
the country as part of that future program, and not those who came to the
United States illegally.

The Arizona senator has tacked rightward on immigration and
other issues since the 2007 battle over immigration in Congress, when he
cosponsored legislation with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) that would have
established a guest worker program, and provided a path to legalization for
illegal immigrants. Part of that shift has been pressure on the right from
former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), who’s waging a primary challenge against
McCain this cycle based in large part on immigration-related concerns. 

emphasized that even the guest worker program he continues to favor would be
strictly temporary, with violations of that law enforced to the letter of the

“Part of any reform has to be a legal, temporary worker program
that is truly temporary,” McCain explained, adding that, under his program, “employers
who employ people who are here illegally are prosecuted to the fullest extent
of the law.”

Updated 1:53 p.m.

Tags John McCain

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