McCain Now Says Immigration Reform Must Include Path To Citizenship

As McCain openly admitted during his interview on This Week, there's nothing like losing huge segments of the population in a national election to finally get politicians to moderate their views and as Think Progress pointed out, that includes his
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As McCain openly admitted during his interview on This Week, there's nothing like losing huge segments of the population in a national election to finally get politicians to moderate their views and as Think Progress pointed out, that includes his own: McCain: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Include Path To Citizenship:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) confirmed on Sunday morning that he that he and a bipartisan group of senators will roll out a comprehensive immigration reform effort in Congress. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” McCain, who has previously fluctuated on his support of a full path to citizenship, stressed that any reform bill must include such a measure, and that the effort must be done in one piece of all-encompassing legislation.

His support for the bill is a pivot from earlier comments that citizenship for undocumented immigrants would be “amnesty.” But McCain defended his shift by pointing out how citizenship for Latinos would benefit the Republican party, and by questioning what would otherwise happen to those undocumented people “living in the shadows”: [...]

McCain said that Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and others will be working on the legislation. The exact outline of what will be in the bill is unclear, but McCain said the Senators will announce its key “principals” this week.

Full transcript below the fold.

RADDATZ: Welcome, Senator McCain. You have spent a great deal of time in your career working on immigration issues. When do you think you can get this bipartisan plan out? And how much can you tell us about what's in it?

MCCAIN: Well, we're going to be announcing the principles that will be guiding our translation of it into legislation. We've still got a lot of hard work ahead, but I'm very pleased with the progress. Frankly...

RADDATZ: You're announcing this week?

MCCAIN: Yeah, we'll be -- Senator Menendez and I and Senator Schumer, Senator Graham, Senator Durbin, and some -- we are -- we've been working together for some weeks now. We'll be coming forward. It's not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007. Martha, what's changed is -- honestly, is that there is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle -- including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle -- that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

RADDATZ: So this is comprehensive. It's not piecemeal?

MCCAIN: Yeah, this piecemeal stuff, the way the Senate works -- very briefly -- is that you bring up one section of it, somebody has an amendment that brings up another part.

RADDATZ: We've seen a lot of that lately. We've definitely seen a lot of that. But what about a path to citizenship?

MCCAIN: That has to be also part of it. But from my perspective, also -- and I'm sure that Senator Menendez understands, as Senator Schumer and Durbin do, that my state, most of the drugs now coming across the Mexican border into the United States comes through -- across the Arizona-Sonora border. So border enforcement, also, is a very important aspect of this. We have made progress on border enforcement. There has been significant improvements. But we've still got a ways to go. But I'm confident, guardedly optimistic, that this time we can get it done.

RADDATZ: Citizenship is obviously the most controversial aspect for some of your Republican colleagues, and you've gone back and forth. In 2005, you were for it. By 2010, you wanted border security first and, quote, "certainly no amnesty," so you're solidly behind a pathway to citizenship. How do you convince some of those Republicans who are not behind it?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I've always been for border security. I mean, there are citizens in my state who do not live in a secure environment. We live in a pretty secure environment here, certainly in the Senate. We've got guards around and everything. There's people every night in the part -- in the southern part of my state that have drug-traffickers and people going across, the guns, that...

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: So how do you convince Republicans about the path to citizenship?

MCCAIN: Well, look, I'll give you a little straight talk. Look at the last election. Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that.

Second of all, this -- we can't go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here -- who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well.

So I think the time is right. By the way, we just acted to avert a nuclear option in the Senate. Believe it or not, I see some glimmer of bipartisanship out there.

RADDATZ: But how about -- we've got President Obama out this week also pushing a plan.

MCCAIN: Yes.

RADDATZ: Does that help, hurt?

MCCAIN: I think it helps. I think it's important that we all work together on this. I think it can be helpful, and I look forward to sitting down. I'm sure we will, the group of us who are working on this legislation, with the president and the White House and our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.

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