McCain Declines To Stop Using the Word 'Illegal' to Refer to Undocumented Immigrants
Senator John McCain, one of the leaders of the "Gang of Eight" currently working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill, declined to stop using the word "illegal" to refer to undocumented immigrants, in response to a request from a 25-year-old immigrant at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
"Someone who crosses our borders illegally is here illegally," McCain said. "You can call it whatever you want to, but it's illegal. I think there's a big difference between someone who does something that's illegal and someone who's undocumented. I'll continue to call it illegal."
McCain held a town hall meetings with supporters and opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, which would offer a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, as well as expedite the applications of immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The Senate group had hoped to have a compromise bill to send to the Judiciary Committee before Congress' Easter recess, currently in progress, but they were unable to come to terms over work visas for overseas labor.
Though the group's members have mostly returned to their home states, they are continuing to work through the recess, McCain said. Their initial deadline has been pushed back, perhaps to the middle of April, but McCain would not offer a specific date.
"We've been working literally night and day. And we may not succeed. But the other members of this negotiating team, I believe, are negotiating in good faith. We've made progress in a number of areas that I am encouraged by, but there are still areas that we are not in agreement."
So far, in addition to a path to citizenship and considerations for young immigrants, the bill requires additional border security and requires undocumented immigrants who want citizenship to pay back taxes for all years they have been in the country, learn English, pass a background check and wait for the federal government to clear the current immigration backlog.
Undocumented immigrants won't have their applications processed until people currently in the queue have already been processed.
The pressure is on for both parties to reach a deal, but if Republicans can't come to an agreement soon, the Democrats will push through President Obama's immigration bill, which is more progressive and less to the liking of conservatives.
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