On Friday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a draconian immigration bill into law, which gives local police officers the power to detain anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. The law has raised serious concerns about racial profiling and potential violations of Americans’ civil rights.
Before the bill was signed, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) hailed it as “a very important step forward.” His spokeswoman, however, clarified to reporters that McCain’s comments “did not represent an endorsement” of the bill. At town hall meetings in Arizona this weekend, McCain continued to straddle the issue, calling it a “good tool” for law enforcement, but also saying that he didn’t know “whether all of it is legal or not”:
Across town, about 80 people came to a McCain town hall where immigration also dominated the discussion.
Although McCain had sounded a note of support for the bill, calling it a “good tool” for law enforcement, he stopped short of fully endorsing the measure. “I haven’t had a chance to look at all the aspects, but I do understand why the Legislature would act,” he said. Even though it wasn’t clear to him “whether all of it is legal or not,” he said state lawmakers “acted out of frustration because the federal government didn’t do its job.”
McCain kept up the confusion over his position in interviews with local Arizona reporters. When KHUN’s Linda Garrett spoke with McCain, he wouldn’t answer “directly” when asked if he “personally” supported the legislation, calling it “a state decision.” “I’m sure there’s some controversial parts,” acknowledged McCain. But when he spoke with a gaggle of reporters at another town hall, McCain said he agrees “with the thrust of the bill.” Watch it:
Flanked by police officers at a town hall, McCain rejected fears that the bill will lead to racial profiling. “Passions are inflamed on both sides of this, as you know,” said McCain. “I do think that these honest, good, decent, hard-working public servants are not going to do anything to abuse someone’s rights.” (HT: Ben Smith)
Unlike her father, McCain’s daughter, Meghan, has a clear position on the law. In her Daily Beast column, the younger McCain writes, “I do not support the bill that was signed by Governor Jan Brewer. I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate, and also, in many ways, violates the civil rights of Arizona residents. Simply put, I think it is a bad law that is missing the bigger picture of what is really going on with illegal immigration.”