Immigration Reform 2013: How Did John McCain Outrage Constituents At a Town Hall Meeting?

Immigration reform caused a lot of tension at a town hall meeting in a Phoenix suburb on Tuesday. The event was a part of an ongoing campaign tour led by former Arizona Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on border security policy. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) , who was also in attendance, provided sentiments on providing more pathways to citizenship for illegal aliens that did not sit well with the bipartisan crowd however. Is it possible that McCain may be more left than his constituents? The answer may be surprising: yes.

Tuesday's was the first of two town hall meetings that day McCain was scheduled to attend, and the senator was faced with an opposing crowd after defending his immigration reform initiatives. McCain mentioned that he proposed a plan to introduce tamper-proof Social Security cards and better technology to detect anyone from coming across the border illegally. McCain also mentioned that illegal aliens should pay fines for breaking immigration laws and have to seek English-language training in order to become a citizen. His plans did not sit well with Republicans that were present.


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

One man named Keith Smith fired back at the senator. "Cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they'll go back! You said build the dang fence! Where’s the fence?" he said.

"They mow our lawns, they care for our babies, they clean, they wash up. That's what those people do, sir ... we are a Judeo-Christian nation ... this is an overwhelming experience, you've had enough time, sir. You've had enough time,” McCain responded.

McCain also mentioned that a significant breach in border security is drug trafficking to the cities of Tucson and Phoenix.

It is surprising to see Sen. McCain take such a liberal stance on this controversial issue. However, it appears he is being realistic in his assessment of the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants as an unfeasible task. Arizona will be at the forefront of the immigration reform debate; meanwhile, President Obama alluded to the fact that the topic will be of high priority in his second term in office. As the national conversation continues with addressing immigration policy, Arizona will be in the spotlight. The nature of McCain’s plans for better border security may be indicative of the senator's transition into a more moderate conservative ideology. Needless to say, there has been a disconnect between the politician and a number of dissatisfied Arizona residents.

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Shawna Gillen

Shawna is currently studying Political Science and Psychology at Marist College. She has a passion for politics and is an aspiring lawyer. In her spare time she likes to play club women's rugby, and contributes as the Co-News Editor for Marist's student newspaper.

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