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McCain: Arizona's Southern Border Is Broken

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 27, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Arizona's immigration law sparking controversy among lawmakers and citizens alike. According to USA Today a handful of organizations are calling for businesses to boycott the state which has hotel operators and other executives worried about the economic losses they may suffer.

Now meanwhile the mayhem caused by the law continues. Now you can see in this picture that protesters are comparing it to the measures imposed by Nazi Germany and others are going even further and that is calling on citizens to burn the city of Phoenix.

Joining me now is somebody who has a close connection to the state of Arizona, Senator John McCain.

Senator, a lot of this language is becoming very, very troubling. You see — you hear and you see — you hear what's being said, you see what is happening. What is your reaction?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Well, I regret it. People are free to express their views but the fact is the Arizona legislature and governor acted for one reason and that is because the federal government didn't — did not act and carry out its responsibilities to secure our borders.

Our southern border in Arizona is broken, Sean. I'd like to give you two numbers. One is, last year 241,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Tucson sector border. You do the math that is one out of three or one out of five that they apprehend versus those who get away, that's about a million people who crossed our border illegally.

One other number, 1.3 million pounds of marijuana were intercepted in the Tucson sector again. The Mexican drug cartels are well armed, they're well equipped and they're very well-organized. And the violence on the border continues to go up.

And they — every state and every citizen has the right to have its borders secured and live in the conditions of safety. And unfortunately, the residents of my state, in the southern part of the state any way, don't have that right.

HANNITY: Senator, as we were discussing earlier tonight, this bill which obviously you support has been compared to a form of terrorism, Nazi Germany, Jim Crow. People are calling for a boycott. I mentioned people calling for the burning of the city of Phoenix for crying out loud.

What is your reaction to people saying this? And obviously there's been a misinterpretation of the bill. What is your reaction of — what they're saying about it?

MCCAIN: Well, let me say, first of all that I talked to a group of law enforcement officials, a couple of our sheriffs, Sheriff Paul Babeu and Sheriff — I'll think of his name in a second —

HANNITY: It's not Arpaio, is it?

MCCAIN: Larry Dever. Sheriff Larry Dever and some police chiefs and they said that they believe that they can enforce this law without having to violate anyone's constitutional rights, without racial profiling. They believe that they can carry out that responsibility. The governor has also ordered that extra training be given to our police.

Look, this is not a perfect solution. If I had written the bill, obviously it might have been somewhat different. But the frustration of the failure of the president of the United States to act that the governor — then Governor Napolitano in 2006 asked for 3,000 — asked for the National Guard to be put — sent to the border.

Jon Kyl and I have a 10-point plan including sending 3,000 National Guard to the border.

HANNITY: Well, I saw —

MCCAIN: If we can secure the border.

HANNITY: I saw that. That you called for 3,000 troops sent to the border. You did that yesterday. Where would be some of the areas that you might disagree if you were writing this bill. You said you might have — do you have disagreement with this particular bill?

MCCAIN: I think I would be more careful in its language in some respects to make sure that it's not misinterpreted in any way. It might have been more specific. But look, it's a reaction of the frustration that citizens feel.

By the way, my understanding is that 70 percent of the citizens of Arizona support this because they are frustrated, because their borders are broken.

Sean, you don't want to have citizens live where their property is violated, their homes are broken into. And our wildlife refuges have been trashed.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. Because we're — for the benefit of time, the specifics in this bill is the police cannot check status unless the person has been stopped for some other legal reason. The idea that this could be about racial profiling is specifically addressed.

Do you agree with the premise that if somebody is pulled over for speeding or some other crime that the police then have the right, if they have suspicion, to look into one's immigration status. In principle do you agree that part of it?

MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. And look, I support the bill. I would have made it perhaps more definitive in certain respects. But to have our state flooded, not only with illegal immigrants, but with the drug cartels.

Look, they just busted a drug cartel today that was bringing 40,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States of America. Guess where — through where? Arizona. They busted an international human smuggling ring that was bringing people from as far away as China.

HANNITY: Senator, let me ask you one last question.

MCCAIN: Sure.

HANNITY: The issue of comprehensive immigration reform put you at odds with many conservatives in this particular case with me as well. I disagreed with you when we were debating during the Bush administration.

Do you have second thoughts at all about that bill? Do you think maybe any form of amnesty or people get to stay if they didn't respect our laws and sovereignty? Do you think they should maybe have to go back to their country of origin?

MCCAIN: Look, look, the violence on the border has escalated to the point where if we pass any kind of bill it would not have effect when illegal immigrants and drugs are flooding into our state.

So a year ago I said we have to secure the borders first before we do anything else. And I still believe that. And we must secure the borders first. Then we have to address the other issues including temporary legal worker program, including the people who are here illegally. But certainly, no amnesty.

HANNITY: Alright. Thank you, Senator. Appreciate your being with us. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Thank you for having me on.

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