Arizona Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday vowed to continue to use the slur “illegal” to refer to undocumented immigrants.
At a town hall meeting in Phoenix, a 25-year-old dreamer asked the former Republican presidential nominee to “please drop the i-word,” according to The Arizona Republic.
“Someone who crosses our borders illegally is here illegally,” McCain replied. “You can call it whatever you want to, but it’s illegal. I think there’s a big difference between someone who does something that’s illegal and someone who’s undocumented.”
“I’ll continue to call it illegal,” he insisted.
The senior Arizona senator is member of a Gang of Eight senators who are working on comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to “earned citizenship.”
“Now, I don’t know if we can achieve agreement or not,” McCain explained. “We’ve been working literally night and day. And we may not succeed. But the other members of this negotiating team, I believe, are negotiating in good faith. We’ve made progress in a number of areas that I am encouraged by, but there are still areas that we are not in agreement.”
The activist group Colorlines in 2011 began a campaign to “Drop the I-Word” because they said it “opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration.”
Watch this video from KPNX, broadcast March 25, 2013.