McCain Defends Arizona's Immigration Law

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How does John McCain feel about Arizona's controversial new immigration law? He says it makes sense, given the federal government's failure to secure Arizona's border with Mexico.

And to those who warn of civil rights violations, McCain says Arizona residents have had their rights violated by cross-border smuggling and crime.

Arizona's new law, which would allow officers to demand that immigrants show legalization documents, has caused an uproar, as critics predict it will engender racial profiling.

McCain, who led Congress's last great immigration reform push in 2007, has staked out a moderate position on immigration during his career, as he has attempted to broker comprehensive new laws with Democrats--supporting, most notably, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

But McCain has also been a fierce advocate of border security, and that's what we saw today as the senator gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, asserting that Arizona's hand had been forced by a porous border that has led to human and drug trafficking, and murder.

"That legislation was enacted by the Arizona legislature and signed by the governor because of the frustration that the governor and the legislature, and indeed the majority of my constituents, have incredible frustration over the federal government's failure to carry out its responsibility to secure our border," McCain said.

"Many viewed this as a civil rights issue. There is no intention whatsoever to violate anyone's civil rights, but this is a national security issue," McCain said.

McCain called on the Obama administration to send 33,000 border patrol agents, plus National Guard troops, to the border for security, and to fund a ramped-up security effort.

"The people in Southern Arizona have had their rights violated by the unending and constant flow of drug smugglers and human traffickers across their property," McCain said.

"If you don't like the...legislation that the legislature passed and the governor singed in Arizona, then carry out the federal responsibilities, which are to secure the border. You probably wouldn't have had this problem," the senator concluded. Video below, courtesy of C-SPAN's YouTube channel:

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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