Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sen. John McCain Faces Angry Town Hall Over Immigration Platform

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a town hall on Tuesday, in Sun Lakes, Ariz.
Matt York
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a town hall on Tuesday, in Sun Lakes, Ariz.

In Washington, both parties seem to be in agreement that immigration reform is necessary.

Just this morning, NPR politics correspondent Mara Liasson said reform is in the "political interest of both sides to support it."

Surely Sen. John McCain, one of the Republican leaders working on bipartisan legislation, may feel differently after a town hall in Sun Lakes, Ariz. Tuesday.

Constituents grilled McCain over the issue and McCain vigorously defended his position.

Some of his constituents said first Congress had to secure the border, another said that they should simply cut off "their welfare," another advocated militarizing the border.

"The only thing that will stop them is a gun," the man is heard saying.

The AP reports that another man "complained that illegal immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote." And "a third man said illegal immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits."

McCain said that the federal government had appropriated hundreds of millions to build a fence and the vast majority of them do not receive government benefits. McCain appealed to his constituents to do what was right under what he said was the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country.

"Again, sir, you're not telling these people the truth," McCain told one constituent. "They mow our lawns, they care for our babies ... that's what those people do."

We'll leave with another video reports of the exchanges:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.