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Sunday, June 27, 2004

KPHO Phoenix - McCain Addresses Migrant Issue

KPHO Phoenix - McCain Addresses Migrant Issue

MARKETPLACE: Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages June 27, 2004
McCain Addresses Migrant Issue

PHOENIX (AP) -- The federal government has failed to address illegal immigration in the Southwest and needs to wake up, Sen. John McCain told Hispanic leaders Saturday.

"It is in our national interest to bring the 8 to 12 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allow them an opportunity to become citizens of this great nation," McCain said at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza.

The Washington-based civil rights group and political think tank dedicates itself to promoting Hispanic issues.

McCain said federal policy and border enforcement have failed to alleviate the deaths of migrants crossing the sweltering southwestern desert and the extreme violence of immigrant smugglers who often hold victims for ransom once they have transported them into America.

He said the most recent failure is the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles in Arizona that use thermal and night-vision equipment to help Border Patrol agents spot illegal immigrants trying to cross the desert into the United States.

"That ignores the fundamental problem," he said. "Where there's a demand, there's a supply ... There's a demand for people to fill jobs that Americans won't do."

Until people recognize that demand, he said the illegal immigration problem will go unsolved.

Last year, McCain proposed legislation to the U.S. Senate for a guest-worker program that would allow immigrants to work in the states for three years and then apply for legal permanent residency. It also would allow undocumented immigrants already working in the Unites States to obtain a restricted visa for three years and then a normal guest-worker visa for another three years. At the end of that time, they could apply for legal permanent residency.

During his speech Saturday, McCain briefly referred to his plan and other guest-worker proposals, including one by President Bush.

"These are all good proposals but we won't act because we're in an election year," he said. "The human tragedy taking place on our streets and the southwestern border must be stopped."

McCain also spoke about the war in Iraq, stressing the importance of success in the June 30 transferal of power to the Iraqi government.

"We cannot afford to fail," he said. "We have sent our most precious blood and treasure so that (Iraqis) might have the same opportunities that we do."

He said successful democracy in the Middle East would curb terrorism by teaching children that America is not the enemy.

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