John McCain on Immigration

Republican nominee for President; Senior Senator (AZ)


Municipalities cannot exempt themselves from immigration law

Q: My son was murdered by an illegal alien because of the sanctuary city that protected someone who doesn't deserve protection. What will you do to make sure we end sanctuary cities?

MCCAIN: When laws are passed, federal laws that apply to the United States of America, municipalities cannot exempt themselves. If we had a system of government that we pass certain laws and towns and cities sprinkled across the country decided, well, we're not going to obey that law, then obviously that would be a breakdown of government. And so I would say that we ought to look at ways that would help convince these cities to observe federal law. And that may mean through how we use federal funds.

GRAHAM: Well, sanctuary cities is a symptom of a greater problem. The best thing we could do to honor your son is to fix a broken immigration system. For 10 years, along with Senator McCain, and I've been trying as hard as I know how to get it fixed rather than yelling about it.

Source: CNN 2017 Town Hall debates: John McCain vs. Lindsey Graham , Mar 1, 2017

Exclude our interpreters in Iraq from Muslim travel ban

Senators McCain and Graham, in a joint CNN Town Hall appearance, said they are pleased that Trump plans to roll out a new version of his executive order banning travel from several majority Muslim countries--this time excluding Iraq.

McCain said he was worried about "our interpreters, my friends, who literally put their lives on the line" in Iraq.

Graham said the initial travel ban was offensive to the 3,500 Muslims who serve in the US military.

Source: CNN 2017 Town Hall debates: Lindsey Graham vs. John McCain , Feb 7, 2017

2005: guest worker program & path to citizenship

In 2005, Senators John McCain & Ted Kennedy proposed a guest-worker program & a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. Both sides torpedoed the efforts. Opposition to the bill from the right was based primarily on demands to secure the border. In response to those concerns, border security resources--including personnel, fencing, and high-tech surveillance--were increased substantially. Deportations of illegal immigrants increased substantially, to about 250,000 annually.

In 2007, another bipartisan immigration reform effort was made, led by Senators John Kyl and Kennedy. The bill would have introduced a point system to identify and favor high-value immigrants, increased significantly the number of employment-based green cards, reduced family preferences, and established a guest-worker program. That effort failed as well: some liberals opposed it on the grounds of protecting American workers, while conservative opponents denounced it on the grounds of amnesty and border security.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.137 , Mar 5, 2013

Campaign ad: "Complete the danged fence!"

In the face of Hayworth's challenge, McCain abandoned his longtime support for comprehensive immigration reform that would recognize reality and provide an eventual path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal aliens already living in the country. Instead, he offered full-throated backing for the border fence he once mocked--"Complete the danged fence!," he demanded in an ad--and sought political cover in the form of an endorsement by his former running mate, Sarah Palin. [Prior to 2004], McCain went to work with Democrats such as the late Ted Kennedy to bring sanity, and humanity, to the nation's long-running debate over illegal immigration. In 2006, I watched McCain tell a group of sensible, blue-suited Republican businessmen in Milwaukee, who asked about immigration, "By the way, I think the fence is least effective. But I'll build the goddamned fence if they want it."
Source: Vanity Fair on 2010 Arizona Senate Republican Primary Debate , Nov 1, 2010

TV ad: Obama makes protecting AZ border incredibly difficult

In his re-election campaign in Arizona, McCain has often seemed to be running as much against Obama as against his actual opponents. In July he began airing a campaign commercial featuring Paul Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, southeast of Phoenix, and the president of the Arizona Sheriff's Association, who has endorsed McCain. "President Obama has made protecting our border incredibly difficult," Babeu says in the ad. "But Arizona has a senator with the courage and character to stand up to a president who is wrong. John McCain. A president versus a senator: doesn't seem like a fair fight. Unless that senator is John McCain."

When the president went to Capitol Hill in May to address the Senate Republicans, McCain accused the president of misrepresenting Arizona's Draconian new immigration law (which McCain had endorsed, and which Obama's Justice Department was preparing to challenge).

Source: Vanity Fair on 2010 Arizona Senate Republican Primary Debate , Nov 1, 2010

10-point plan to secure border; then try legal-worker deal

McCain talked about his 10-point plan to secure the border, saying only after that happens can the country address a temporary legal-worker program. "If we don't secure the borders first, we will find ourselves with another group of people who have come to this country illegally, and then we'll have to do it all over again."

Glassman said that while he supports securing the border, it won't work unless there is a way for people to cross legally for work.

Source: Arizona Daily Star coverage of 2010 Arizona Senate debate , Sep 27, 2010

2007 immigration bill split Republican Party

A policy debate about which he cared greatly, and for which he was catching major flak/ The issue was immigration reform. With Bush's support, Congress was taking up a proposal in spring 2007 that would allow a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants. In late May, McCain stood alongside Ted Kennedy and announced his support for the bill.

Just tone down the rhetoric, his advisers pleaded. McCain refused. He was disgusted by Republicans in Congress and talk radio gasbags such as Rush Limbaugh who bashed immigrants. "They're going to destroy the party," he would say.

As McCain's town hall meetings developed into shouting matches over immigration, the candidate let his frustrations show through. By the time the immigration bill collapsed in the Senate on June 28, 2007, the damage was done. The issue had more than injured McCain politically. It had thoroughly crippled his already lame and halting fund-raising.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.283-284 , Jan 11, 2010

Doing nothing on immigration is really de facto amnesty

In New Hampshire, the morning of a Republican debate in early June, McCain warmed up with a town hall meeting at the fire station in Guilford but was hit repeatedly with immigration questions. That night, he found himself isolated as Romney, Giuliani, and several other rivals attacked him for supporting a bill they said would give amnesty to twelve million illegal immigrants living in the United States. McCain argued that doing nothing on immigration was worse and amounted to de facto amnesty.

McCain said reaction to his candidacy on talk radio turned even more negative, with the hosts denouncing McCain's bill amnesty. "I remember being on talk shows and the host wouldn't let me get a word in," he said. "Then listening to the talk shows in the car: 'Amnesty John' and 'Lindsey Gomez' [a reference to Senator Lindsey Graham]. It became pretty apparent that the depth of the emotion on this issue was quite significant."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.254 , Aug 4, 2009

Party that attracts immigrants becomes the ruling party

In 2006, McCain talked at length about the immigration bill, and was passionate about the need for action. He was critical of Republicans who opposed his bill and lavished praise on Ted Kennedy, his Senate partner in pushing for comprehensive legislation He was also deeply worried about the political cost to his party if Republicans killed immigration reform. "We all know the parties that have attracted immigrants into this country have been the ruling parties," he said. It's just a historical fact."
Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 40 , Aug 4, 2009

Restart comprehensive reform only after securing borders

I twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who did. Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplishment. We have economic & humanitarian responsibilities as well, & they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.
Source: Obama & McCain back-to-back speeches at NALEO , Jun 28, 2008

Other aspects only after consensus that borders are secure

On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.
Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 7, 2008

Deport 2 million illegal immigrants who committed crimes

There are 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported. We’re all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they’ve been here, et cetera. We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn’t trust or have confidence in us that we would do it.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

Would no longer push his own 2006 immigration proposal

Q: Your 2006 immigration proposal was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?

A: No, it would not, because we know what the situation is today. So to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate, it won’t. We went through various amendments which prevented that proposal. We will secure the borders first when I am president. I know how to d that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary. I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. Then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

Certify border is secure; only then allow guest workers

Q: If the Senate passed your bill, S1433, the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill, would you as president sign it?

A: Yeah, but look, the lesson is, it isn’t going to come. The lesson is they want the border secured first. I come from a border state. I know how to fix those borders with walls, with UAVs, with sensors, with cameras, with vehicle barriers. They want the border secured first. And I will do that, and, as president, I will have the border state governors certify those borders are secured. And then we will have a temporary worker program with tamper-proof biometric documents, and any employer who employs someone in any other circumstances will be prosecuted. That means a lot of people will leave just normally because they’re not going to be able to get their job. Then we have to get rid of two million people who have committed crimes here. We have to round them up and deport them. As far as the others are concerned, we were in an ongoing discussion when this whole thing collapsed.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 27, 2008

2003 “amnesty” didn’t mean rewarding illegal behavior

Q: Mitt Romney says in a TV ad, “McCain supported this year’s amnesty bill. Amnesty for illegals: that’s straight talk for being in Washington too long.” You said back in 2003. “I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible. Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here, paid taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it.”

A: Look, I have said time after time that no one can be reward for illegal behavior. The context of that conversation, don’t you call that “amnesty.” I have said in hundreds of hours of debate on the Senate floor, we reward no one for illegal behavior They have to pay fines. They have to take the naturalization. About two million people here in this country who have come illegally, have committed crimes here in America, and they have to be deported immediately.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 6, 2008

Round up and deport two million aliens who committed crimes

Q: How would you deport the two million illegal aliens who have committed crimes?

A: You round them up and you find them.

Q: Two million people, though? Logistically, how do you do that?

A: It’s very hard, but what’s the choice? Having people who are breaking our laws in our country illegally? But the other aspect of it is that people come forward, and those that don’t come forward, then obviously it’s easier to identify them, and then we address their situation according to how long they’ve been here, what their record is, but they cannot be rewarded for illegal behavior. In other words, they can’t be put in front of anybody else.

Q: Fourteen million illegal immigrants here, let’s say two million have committed crimes. The remaining 12 million: they will stay?

A: I have said in debate after debate, it’s not that they will stay, it depends on their category. I’m deporting any soldiers’ grandmothers. We have to address this in a humane and compassionate fashion.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 6, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, he has used the word “amnesty” in the past

While debating whether McCain supported amnesty, Romney said, “I don’t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad.” McCain denied ever favoring amnesty, saying, “Let me just say I’ve never supported amnesty.”

McCain is right when he says that his bill required penalties to be paid by illegals trying to adjust their status, while dictionaries define “amnesty” as a pardon. But he himself has in the past used the “a” word to describe what he had in mind:

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican debate , Jan 5, 2008

Do everything I can to help all immigrants learn English

Q: Do you think that there would be a practical value of making English our official language?

A: I think the most practical value is to make English used by all Americans and all citizens, and all who come here. The only way we move up the economic ladder from the bottom rung is to know English. And I would emphasize the importance of every person who comes to this country to become a citizen and enjoy its liberties & beauty is to learn English. And I will do everything I can to help them do that.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Illegal immigrants are God’s children as well

Q: Will you pledge to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty?

A: Yes, of course, and we never proposed amnesty. But then you’ve still got two other aspects of this issue that have to be resolved as well. We need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God’s children as well. And they need some protection under the law; they need some of our love and compassion. I want to assure you that I’ll enforce the borders first. We’ll solve this immigration problem.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida , Nov 28, 2007

Absences from negotiations hurt reform bill’s chances

McCain had been largely AWOL from the immigration negotiations all year, after previously serving as the deal’s lead Republican champion. For the Arizona senator it was the worst of all possible worlds: his effort to get something done about a pressing national problem was being held up on a what he considered to be a niggling detail; and although he was no longer the Republican face on the deal--he’d sloughed that thankless duty off on his state-mate John Kyl. [Meanwhile, McCain] was still being hammered in the conservative media and the polls over the deeply unpopular “amnesty” bill.
Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p.109 , Oct 9, 2007

12 million illegals in country now is de facto amnesty

Q: Are you just playing politics, backing a new plan which would enforce the borders but without any longer a path to citizenship?

A: Very seldom have I seen an issue that aroused this much passion with the American people. No one is for amnesty. I and the president came forward with a plan that we thought was comprehensive and workable with the priority being border security, which remains my position. Why we failed is because the American people have lost trust and confidence in us. We have to succeed, because there’s 12 million people who are in this country illegally, which is de facto amnesty, and we need a temporary worker program. I commit to securing the borders first. We can secure those borders. As president, I would have the border state governors certify that those borders were indeed secure.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

Amnesty is forgiveness; we offer fines; lines; & long waits

Q: [to McCain]: How do you not call the circumstances of comprehensive immigration reform as an amnesty?

MCCAIN: Well, because amnesty, according to the dictionary, is forgiveness. The proposal that we had would require fines, would require back in the line, would require deportation for some. It would require others to go back to the country of their origin. It would require an enormous amount of time, as long as 13 years, before anyone could even be eligible for citizenship in this country.

ROMNEY: First of all, the Z visa that was offered in that Senate bill let everybody who’s here illegally, other than criminals, stay here for the rest of their lives. And that may not be technically amnesty, but it is certainly amnesty in fact. [The magnet for illegal immigrants, besides] having amnesty, is saying, if you come and you’re willing to work and pay taxes, we’ll sign you up. That’s not the right message. We’ve got to enforce the law, welcoming legal immigration, but ending illegal immigration.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

No official English; Native Americans use own languages

Q: Is there someone here who doesn’t believe English should be the official language of the US?

McCAIN: I would like to remind you that we made treaties with Native Americans, such as the Navajos in my state, where we respect their sovereignty and they use their native language in their deliberations. Everybody knows that English has to be learned if anyone ever wants to move up the economic ladder. That is obvious. And part of our legislation, by the way, is a requirement to learn English.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Immigration reform needed for national security

Q [to Romney]: Sen. McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on immigration. He said: “Pandering for votes on this issue while offering no solution to the problem amounts to doing nothing, and doing nothing is silent amnesty.”

ROMNEY: My view is that we should enforce immigration laws. And this bill [lets almost] every illegal alien stay here. That’s simply not fair to get put ahead in the line of all the people who’ve been waiting legally.

McCAIN: Our legislation does account for people who are here illegally, it does have an employment verification system, and it weeds out those who shouldn’t be here, and it gives others a chance to remain in this country. Look, this is a national security issue first and foremost. What we have done is come together with the president, and the leaders of both parties, and sit down and figure out an approach to this problem. It is a serious national security problem. We need to act, and if someone else has a better idea, I’d love to have them give it to us.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Hispanics serve our country, like every wave of immigrants

Q [to Tancredo]: Would you advertise for your campaign in Spanish? Specifically, I’m referring to the highly publicized comment you recently made that Miami was like a third world country.

TANCREDO: No, I would not advertise in Spanish. English is the glue that keeps a country together, any country. McCain’s immigration bill codifies Pres. Clinton’s executive order that said all papers produced by the government have to be in various languages.

McCAIN: Well, first of all, muchas gracias. We have to stop the illegal immigration, but we’ve had waves throughout our history. Hispanics is what we’re talking about, a different culture, a different language, which has enriched my state where Spanish was spoken before English was. In Washington DC, go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names. They must come into country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

America expects us to work on immigration together

Q [to Tancredo]: Do you think that Sen. McCain is soft on immigration?

TANCREDO: I do. He sponsored a bill that would have given amnesty to everybody who’s here illegally. It would have required us to actually consult with Mexico as to whether or not we would build the fence along our southern border. If we pursue this path toward amnesty, it’s a disaster for the country.

McCAIN: I have never supported amnesty and never would. But the American people expect us to sit down and work this issue out together. That’s what I’ve been doing for a couple of years now. We are very close to an agreement, led by our president and his Cabinet, that will first secure our borders. Then we would have a temporary worker program that could only be valid through a tamper-proof biometric document. And then we would address the issue of the 12 million people who are already here.

ROMNEY: The key part of what I objected to in McCain-Kennedy is that they should not get any advantage by having come here illegally.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Bipartisanship shows preparedness for presidency

Q: Immigration reform is a signature issue for you. But now you’re reported as “largely absent from this year’s negotiations.”

A: Actually, I’m on constant contact on this issue. I think we are close to an agreement.

Q: Some pundits say your identification with Sen. Kennedy on the immigration issue has accounted for your political problems with conservatives.

A: I’m proud of the bipartisan effort that I’ve made on many issues with Democrats & Republicans, ranging from Joe Lieberman on 9/11 to working on the other side of the aisle on immigration reform and others. And that’s why I think I’m prepared to be president of the US. The American people want us to work together on issues that are important to the American people. That’s my record.

Q: You think you’re going to get a deal.

A: I think we’re very close to it, and I’m very pleased to see that we have a number of the more conservative Republicans engaged in this effort, as well as people on the other side of the aisle.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 13, 2007

Change rule barring immigrants from running for president

Q: Should we change our Constitution to allow men like Mel Martinez, born in Cuba, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, to stand here some night as candidates for president?

HUNTER: We haven’t seen his endorsement yet. That’s a no.

GILMORE: No, I want to amend this Constitution in a variety of different ways, and this would be not a good start to do it that way.

McCAIN: He and I have many similar attributes, so I have to seriously consider it.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Comprehensive reform requires temporary worker program

TANCREDO: The issue of immigration reform and what’s going to happen to this country unless we deal with this forthrightly--no more platitudes, no more obfuscating with using words like, well, I am not for amnesty, but I am for letting them stay. That kind of stuff has got to be taken away from the political debate, as far as I’m concerned, so people can understand exactly who is where on this incredibly important issue.

McCAIN: We’ve been working very hard for a couple of months with Democrats and Republicans, led by the president and his Cabinet, to come up with a comprehensive solution and resolution of this terrible problem of illegal immigration. One thing we would all agree on, the status quo is not acceptable. We have to secure our borders. But we also need a temporary worker program, and we have to dispose of the issue of 12 million people who are in this country illegally. This issue needs to be addressed comprehensively.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Comprehensive reform must include border security first

Q: You sponsored a bill with Ted Kennedy that included a guest worker program and a path to earned citizenship. Do you still support McCain-Kennedy?

A: I support many of the concepts in it. It didn’t pass. The legislation didn’t pass. So we’ve been sitting down and doing intensive negotiations with the president, with other conservative Republicans and Senator Kennedy to come up with something that will. It certainly is going to be a comprehensive proposal. And it certainly will be border enforcement as the first and foremost priority.

Q: Border enforcement before the other parts of the package?

A: Not before, but certainly there has to be the assurance that all necessary measures are being taken in order to secure our border. Americans deserve that. Americans deserve border security, and we can’t ignore that aspect of it. Our borders are broken. I think we all know that.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews , Apr 2, 2007

McCain-Kennedy bill: balanced alternative to HR.4437

April 10, 2006 was designated as the day of "La Marcha" ("The March"), with demonstrations in as many as 100 cities across the US. These street protests were mischaracterized intentionally when they are tagged "pro-immigration," when they really were "pro-illegal immigration." The Minuteman Project is "pro-immigration" as long as that immigration is legal. What these protestors and their political supporters were opposing was legislation such as HR.4437-laws that seek to secure the borders and toughen law enforcement against illegal aliens.

The goal was to pressure Congress to defeat HR.4437 and to pass instead a bill that had been proposed by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA) and Sen. John McCain (R, AZ). The Kennedy-McCain bill, S.2611, was billed as an attempt to be "balanced," including a "guest worker" program and a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens who had been in the US for five years or more.

Source: Minutemen, by Jim Gilchrist & Jerome Corsi, p.225-227 , Jul 25, 2006

I’ve never supported amnesty

I’ve never supported amnesty. A few nights ago, Sen. Lieberman & I had a town hall meeting together. It was a rather unusual event. The issue came up. Lieberman said, McCain has never supported amnesty & anybody says that he does is a liar, is lying. No better authority than Gov. Romney believed that it’s not amnesty because two years ago, he was asked, and he said that my plan was, quote, “reasonable, and was not amnesty.” It’s a matter of record. Learn English, back of the line behind everybody else.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

We have to secure the borders first

We have to secure the borders first. As president, I will have the border state governors certify that those borders are secure. Secretary Chertoff said that there’s 2 million people in this country illegally who have committed crimes. Those people have to be deported immediately. I believe we need a temporary worker program. One with an electronic employment verification system and tamper-proof biometric documents, and any employer who employs someone in any other way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is a national security issue. We have to secure our borders. We have to address it in as humane and compassionate an issue as possible. We have to respect our nation’s security requirements. It’s time Republican and Democrat sat down together and resolved this issue. Because if you’ve got broken borders, and if you have 12 million people here illegally, then, obviously, you have de facto amnesty. It is a federal responsibility.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

Make possible for immigrants to do a job Americans won’t do

Things are terrible, and we’ve got to fix it. But we’re not going to fix it until we have comprehensive immigration reform. When there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply. There are jobs that Americans will not do, so we have to make it possible for someone to come to this country to do a job that an American won’t do and then go back to the country from where they came.
Source: AZ Senate Debate, in Tucson Citizen , Oct 16, 2004

Give everyone in the world an opportunity to come to America

Those who live closest are the ones who can get here. Everyone in the world should have the opportunity through an orderly process to come to this country.
Source: AZ Senate Debate, in Tucson Citizen , Oct 16, 2004

1988: Honored by La Raza for opposing official English

McCain attacked Proposition 106, a statewide referendum that was being advanced by the so-called English-only movement. McCain told the teachers, “Why would we want to pass some kind of initiative that a significant portion of our population considers an assault on their heritage?”

Because of his position on the English-only initiative and his willingness to fight for a pluralistic American culture, McCain was one of 10 members of congress who were honored by the National Council of La Raza, a nationwide coalition of Hispanic organizations. In a speech at a ceremony in Washington, before an audience of 500, McCain again attacked English-only initiatives. “The building of our great nation is not the work of immigrants from one or two countries, McCain said, ”Our nation and the English language have done quite well with Chinese spoken in California, German in Pennsylvania, Italian in New York, Swedish in Minnesota, and Spanish throughout the Southwest. I fail to see the cause for alarm now.“

Source: Man of the People, by Paul Alexander, p.122-123 , Jan 19, 2004

More help for legal immigrants when immigrating & once here

Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

John McCain on Voting Record

No more ballot initiatives against immigration

Yes, we need to control our borders. No one argues with that. Just ask the recent immigrant who came here legally and is the first to be knocked off the ladder of opportunity by illegal immigrants. But we don’t need ballot initiatives that make people think we want them to abandon their hopes because some of us don’t believe the American Dream is big enough to share anymore.
Source: Landon Lecture at Kansas State University , Mar 15, 1999

Voted YES on comprehensive immigration reform.

    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Reference: McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill; Bill S.1639 ; vote number 2007-235 on Jun 28, 2007

Voted YES on declaring English as the official language of the US government.

Voting YES would declare English as the national language of the Government of the US. Unless specifically provided by statute, no person would have an entitlement to have the Government of the US communicate or provide materials in any language other than English. If an exception is made with respect to the use of a language other than English, the exception does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language. If any form is issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English, the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes. Nothing in this amendment shall prohibit the use of a language other than English.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.

Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.

Reference: National Language Amendment Act; Bill S.Amdt.1151 to S.1348 ; vote number 2007-198 on Jun 6, 2007

Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:

  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-262 on Sep 29, 2006

Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program.

Reference: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S. 2611 ; vote number 2006-157 on May 25, 2006

Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

Voting YEA would table (kill) the proposed amendment to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security benefits. Voting NAY supports that prohibition, while voting YEA supports immigrants participating in Social Security. Text of amendment:
To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.
Reference: Preclusion of Social Security Credits; Bill S.Amdt.3985 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-130 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship.

This amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act would prohibit H-2C nonimmigrants ("Guest Workers") from adjusting to lawful permanent resident status. Voting YEA on the motion to table (which would kill the amendment) indicates supporting a path to citizenship for guest workers. Voting NAY on the motion indicates opposing any path to citizenship. The amendment says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien having nonimmigrant status is ineligible for and may not apply for adjustment of status.''
Reference: Kyl Amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S.Amdt.3969 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-135 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work.

Vote to create a national registry containing names of U.S. workers who want to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work, and to require the Attorney General to allow more foreign workers into the U.S. for farm work under H-2A visas.
Reference: Bill S.2260 ; vote number 1998-233 on Jul 23, 1998

Voted YES on visas for skilled workers.

This bill expanded the Visa program for skilled workers.
Status: Bill Passed Y)78; N)20; NV)2
Reference: The American Competitiveness Act; Bill S. 1723 ; vote number 1998-141 on May 18, 1998

Voted YES on limit welfare for immigrants.

This amendment would have restored food stamp benefits to the children of legal immigrants
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)59; N)41
Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #429; Bill S.947 ; vote number 1997-111 on Jun 24, 1997

English immersion over bilingual education.

McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

[The Republican Main Street Partnership supports giving priority to] examining new ways to increase the English fluency of limited English proficient students. Currently, priority is given to instruction programs that provide for bilingual education, which combines proficiency in the studentís native language with English instruction. Recently, however, education research has suggested that English immersion -- not bilingual instruction -- may be the most effective way to help students become proficient in English. Native language requirements in current law must change to reflect this reality and new instruction methods must be pursued with an eye toward regular evaluation and improved English language acquisition.

Source: 2001 GOP Main Street Partnership Action Agenda for Education 01-RMSP1 on Jul 2, 2001

Sponsored comprehensive immigration reform, without amnesty.

McCain sponsored for comprehensive immigration reform without amnesty

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation is designed to fix our Nation's broken immigration system. While in previous years we worked independently on immigration reform legislation, we are coming together today to introduce what we believe is groundbreaking, comprehensive legislation. Over a year ago, the President laid out a framework for what comprehensive immigration reform should look like. We have used the President's framework to craft this package.

The simple fact is that America's immigration system is broken. Recent vigilante activities along the southwestern border have shown that the current situation is not sustainable. Americans are frustrated with our lack of border security and our inability to control illegal immigration.

Make no mistake, this is not an amnesty bill. We are not here to reward law-breakers, and any accusations to the contrary are patently untrue. This bill recognizes the problems inherent in the current system and provides a logical and effective means to address these problems. It would be impossible to identify and round up all 10 to 11 million of the current undocumented, and if we did, it would ground our Nation's economy to a halt. These millions of people are working. Aliens will not come forward to simply "report and deport." We have a national interest in identifying these individuals, incentivizing them to come forward out of the shadows, go through security background checks, pay back taxes, pay penalties for breaking the law, learn to speak English, and regularize their status. Anyone who thinks this goal can be achieved without providing an eventual path to a permanent legal status is not serious about solving this problem.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary; never came to a vote. [The famous McCain-Kennedy legislation which DID come to a vote was the 2007 version of this bill].

Source: Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S.1033/H.R.2330) 05-S1033 on May 12, 2005

Rated 18% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance.

McCain scores 18% by USBC on immigration issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:

About USBC (from their website, www.usbc.org):

U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.

Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.

Source: USBC website 06n-USBC on Dec 31, 2006

Supports additional border infrastructure.

McCain supports the CC survey question on Border Infrastructure

The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Increase Border Security Including Additional Infrastructures' The Christian Coalition notes, "You can help make sure that voters have the facts BEFORE they cast their votes. We have surveyed candidates in the most competitive congressional races on the issues that are important to conservatives, but now we need you

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 16_CC12 on Nov 8, 2016

Other candidates on Immigration: John McCain on other issues:
Former Presidents/Veeps:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
V.P.Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
V.P.Al Gore
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Religious Leaders:
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Old Testament
Pope Francis

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
Tea Party
Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Joe Scarborough
Gov.Jesse Ventura
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Page last updated: Oct 27, 2021