Immigration, Growth On McCain Agenda

Immigration, growth on McCain agenda

The Arizona Star
Tucson, Arizona
Published: 03.18.2007

Sen. John McCain, one of our state's U.S. senators and a presidential hopeful, said he's working 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week to balance both roles.

“You have to work at it. You just get back as often as you can, maximize time in state, and make sure you have a really good staff do the casework,” McCain said Friday morning from his bus at a stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Illegal immigration is among the top issues of McCain's senatorial and presidential agenda. He mentioned several times during his two-day road trip through Iowa that illegal immigration is a national security issue and a federal responsibility. And it's an emotional issue, he emphasized.

“Fences alone are not going to get the job done,” said McCain, an advocate for a comprehensive solution. He supports a tamper-proof identification for guest workers and penalties for employers who accept fraudulent IDs.

He wants the estimated 12 million illegal entrants already in our nation “out of the shadows” by grouping them by circumstance and offering each a mechanism toward becoming a legal guest worker or beginning a process to citizenship.

However, McCain said he realizes that states, cities and towns are frustrated with federal inaction, and encouraged legislatures and citizens to keep the pressure on Congress and the White House for action.

He said he is encouraged and that “we really are having very serious negotiations” on an immigration bill and that the “president, I'm happy to say, is heavily engaged.”

McCain said he had his fingers crossed that we'll see meaningful immigration legislation before Congress' August recess. If legislation doesn't pass by then, we won't see anything until 2009 because the politics of the presidential campaign will get in the way, McCain said.

Growth and not making the mistakes of other states is also a McCain agenda item. The senator represents a state that, by some projections, will be in the not-so-distant future developed from Prescott to Sierra Vista.

McCain said, “People want to live in our part of the country. We're going to have not just transportation problems, we're going to have water and many other issues as well.”

McCain said Arizona has the advantage of being able to learn what other states have done and not done. He sees water being addressed as a regional, not a state, issue as positive. He said he'd like to revamp the federal fuel tax to return a higher percentage of the tax to the state that generated the revenue, which he said would benefit growth states, such as Arizona.