Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday challenged Republican lawmakers who oppose a bipartisan agreement to give legal status to undocumented immigrants as a part of comprehensive immigration reform.
"The are 11 million people living in the shadows, I believe that they deserve to come out of the shadows," the Arizona senator told Fox News host Chris Wallace.
"Under your plan -- although they wouldn't get the path to citizenship until you got this border enforcement certification -- they would almost immediately get probationary legal status, which basically means that they could continue to live in this country legally," Wallace noted. "Some of your critics on the right are saying that's amnesty."
"Well, I don’t think it is amnesty to start with," McCain insisted. "Second of all, what do you want to do with them?"
"Third of all, it's a tough path to citizenship, you have to pay back tax and learn English and have to have a clear record and get to the back of the line behind to the people who have come here legally or waiting legally. So, I just reject that."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other conservatives have blasted the bipartisan immigration reform proposal, arguing that the focus should be on securing the border without providing a path to citizenship.
"I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship," Cruz recently said. "To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally."
(h/t: Think Progress)