Video: John McCain calls for “humane” immigration stance to win over Latinos
Republicans need to adopt a more “humane” approach on immigration in order to win over Latino voters in November, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday.
McCain, the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2008, said that the current crop of candidates need to take a balanced approached to the issue that takes into consideration the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States as well as a muscular border security posture. The senator would not, however, endorse several current reform proposals such as the DREAM Act.
“Well, I don’t know if they’re going to lose the White House again, but we have to present a humane approach to a very difficult issue of illegal immigration into this country. And we have to have a plan as to how we can resolve the issue,” McCain, 75, said during an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos. “We also have to do something about the drugs that are coming across our southern border that are killing our kids.”
McCain has endorsed the GOP front runner, Mitt Romney, in 2012 and since then has publicly mused about the challenge for Romney in appealing to Latino voters.
Romney has pivoted to the right on immigration during the GOP primary process in order to outflank his opponents and appeal to Republican base voters. But many political observers have predicted that could hurt him in a general election match up with Obama. A recent Univision News/ABC News/Latino Decisions poll shows Romney losing the Latino vote to Obama 25-67 percent.
The president has already indicated he plans to bludgeon Republicans on immigration in addressing Latinos despite gripes from some Latinos on his own handling of the issue.
McCain himself struggled to win over Latinos in 2008 against Obama. The one-time champion of comprehensive immigration reform legislation wavered on his support for it throughout the campaign, a theme which Obama harped on constantly during the campaign. McCain eventually lost the Latino vote to Obama two-to-one and suffered a general election defeat.
The Arizona senator said that Romney would need to develop a more comprehensive plan on immigration beyond his “self-deportation” method he unveiled during a debate several weeks ago in Florida.
“No. I think there are some people who want to leave this country and return to the country they came from, but obviously it requires a broader solution than that, and we all know that,” he said. “I want to be able to assure the American people that immigrants can come from anywhere in the world and come to this country in a legal fashion, and not be co-opted by people who come illegally, because it’s not fair.”
But McCain, like other Republicans, said he remains opposed to the DREAM Act, which is backed by over 80 percent of Latino voters nationwide. Even though he once backed the bill, he said that the current proposal “is disingenuous and has to be fixed if [Democrats] want to get broad support for it.” McCain disagrees with the notion that military enlistees and college students should be given an equal pathway to citizenship.
In terms of dealing with the broader undocumented population, McCain said that he “would favor an approach to the issue of people who are in this country who probably should have a right to remain in this country.
“I don’t believe they should automatically receive citizenship. I think they should get in line with everybody else who comes to this country legally,” he added.