McCain defends immigration reform at heated town hall

McCain, who is part of the so-called Gang of Eight senators working on immigration reform, hosted two gatherings Tuesday, where residents expressed concern and frustration about border security, reported the Associated Press.

During the town hall in the Phoenix suburb of Sun Lakes, McCain said that immigrants must be required to learn English, cover back taxes and pay fines in order to achieve citizenship, according to the AP.

He also maintained that immigration reform should hinge on better border security.

"There are 11 million people living here illegally," he said. "We are not going to get enough buses to deport them."

"Arizona Nightly News" reported that the 75-minute town hall meeting was dominated by hostile questions about immigration reform.

During the meeting, Arizona resident Keith Smith accused McCain of not doing enough to secure the border.

"You said, 'Build the dang fence.' Where's the fence?" said Smith.

McCain responded, "In case you missed it, I showed you."

"Cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they'll go back," Smith also said to clapping from the crowd.

At one point, McCain urged compassion, telling residents, "we are a Judeo-Christian nation," reported the AP.

After the meeting, Smith told "Arizona Nightly News'" that McCain "doesn't want the American people to stand up and ask the tough questions and hold his feet to the fire."

The Arizona senator and former presidential candidate said he took the criticism at the town hall meeting in stride.

"You want to tell a story that somehow there was a problem at this town hall meeting. That's the story you want to tell. It's not true. It's what I've been doing for 30 years," McCain said.