Senior politician defends amnesty for illegal immigrants

Heard on Radio 4’s PM earlier

BBC Reporter: But why should millions of illegal immigrants be given an amnesty to stay here?

Senior politician: Why should millions of illegal immigrants have to continue to live and work in the shadows?


Rebellious Lib Dem MP? Out-of-touch academic? Wishy-washy left-wing campaigner?

Actually it was John McCain, conservative Republican senator for Arizona, former presidential candidate and one of the eight members of the committee responsible for the drafting of an immigration reform bill.

There’s a reason the US is the world’s most successful ever economy…

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • *faints*

  • Anthony Hawkes 11th Apr '13 - 7:00pm

    Is this a first? I find myself agreeing with John McCain.

  • Just because it might be right for an historically ethnically and culturally diverse country founded on mass immigration with a low population density (34 people per sq km) does not mean it is right for an historically ethnically and culturally homogeneous (in global terms) country with very high population density (260 per sq km or 401 per sq km in England alone).

    Why should millions of illegal immigrants have to continue to live and work in the shadows?
    Answer: No one is forcing them to, are they?

  • He has said similar things recently, but the factt the Republicans lost the election in part due to winning so little of the Latino vote there is a heavy party political dimenson to his remarks.

  • The US may be the world’s most successful economy according to Nick Thornsby’s reckoning, but there are still rather a large number of Americans living on food stamps and living in trailer parks.

  • Alex Sabine 11th Apr '13 - 8:56pm

    Good to see, especially given the entrenched partisan posturing on most other subjects in US politics at the moment. It’s sobering to compare it to the sterile debate on immigration in this country.

    ATF – Fair point about if we see a spate of GOP converts, but McCain has argued for a qualified amnesty for illegal immigrants for years, possibly decades. In fact George W. Bush argued for reform but the hostility of Republicans in Congress scuppered his efforts.

  • McCain believed this years ago, then stopped believing it to try to fight off a Tea Party challenge to the Senate nomination. Glad he’s back to believing it again.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 11th Apr '13 - 10:27pm

    @ Tony Greaves

    That’s a very good point, and worth making. Good piece from Jonathan Portes on “the numbers”:

  • “Why should millions of illegal immigrants have to continue to live and work in the shadows?
    Answer: No one is forcing them to, are they?”

    Wait, is this a serious question?

  • Business people prefer to employ low wage immigrants rather than taking on unemployed local people so it is not surprising to read John McCain’s comments

  • Other than the Latino vote, I wonder whether some well heeled US citizens, and probably Republican supporters are starting to feel the heat…

    For “millions of illegal immigrants have to continue to live and work” in the US, they need financial sponsors, namely bona fide US citizens and taxpayers who are prepared to employ them as housekeepers, cleaners, casual labourers, farm workers etc. etc.

  • Susan Rounds 12th Apr '13 - 10:07pm

    We’ve already been through this in 1986. Why would anyone think that this time around will produce different results? As long as employers continue to break the law and hire illegal immigrants, this problem will never change. We are doomed to repeat this over and over again.

  • Interesting account from an asylum seeker now settled in UK in todays independent North Korean defector Joo-il Kim .

    “I went to China, then Vietnam, then Cambodia, but they don’t accept North Korean refugees and I could not claim asylum so I could not settle there. I eventually went to Thailand, but even there they issue a UN document allowing people to stay but not as permanent residents.”

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