In the "he said, he said" battle between Sen. Kyl and President Obama over whether Obama told the senator he purposely isn't securing the border and wants it open for leverage, enter John McCain-- and McCain is rushing to the side of Kyl. McCain stated "It was made very clear to me in the conversation we had, and I'm sure of the 39 other colleagues that were there, that the president basically conditioned his support for border security to overall comprehensive immigration reform", as shown in the video. The full transcription is below.
There's been a lot of publicity in the last 24 hours about a conversation that Sen. Kyl had with the President of the United States. I was not there. But I was there a few weeks ago when the President of the United States came and had lunch with Republican senators, gave a list of the issues that he was concerned about, and immigration was one of the items that he mentioned.
So I and Sen. Kyl responded to the President of the United States. It was made very clear to me in the conversation we had, and I'm sure of the 39 other colleagues that were there, that the president basically conditioned his support for border security to overall comprehensive immigration reform. I mean, we went back and forth. I tried to explain to the president that we gave amnesty in the 1980's, somewhere around 3 million illegal immigrants were given amnesty. But the promise was we'd secure the border, obviously we didn't secure the border, and we now have 12 million people in this country--as Sen. Kyl mentioned, some hundreds of thousands in the state of Arizona illegally. So, our point is, even if we went through comprehensive immigration reform if we didn't have a secure border than some time from now we would have another group of illegal immigrants that we would have to address the issue, which argues for getting the border secured first. It can be done in a year to two years, it isn't that expensive when you look at the cost of a wildfire and drugs and everything else associated with it--not to mention the violation of human rights. So there was a big stur because of the conversation that the president and Sen. Kyl had, but it was clear to me in the conversation in front of 39 Republican senators that he said, yes, he'd secure the borders but we had to have "comprehensive immigration reform." This is the difference between our position and that of the president; we say "secure the borders, have the governor's of the border states certify that it's secure, then we can certainly move on. But the American people have to have the assurance that we're not going to revisit this issue time after time after time. And every nation has the obligation to secure it's border. (h/t Cubachi)