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McCain: Obama Immigration Move a 'Distraction' McCain: Obama Immigration Move a 'Distraction' McCain: Obama Immigration Move a 'Distraction' McCain: Obama Immigration...

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / POLITICS

McCain: Obama Immigration Move a 'Distraction'

photo of Alexandra  Jaffe
June 17, 2012

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Sunday joined the list of GOP critics of the Obama administration's shift in deporation policy, arguing that it's a political ploy to distract from the poor economy.

"I think that this is obviously a way to divert attention from very bad news the president's had for the last three or four weeks," President Obama's 2008 presidential rival said on NBC's Meet the Press.

A week that began with a focus on Obama's statement last Friday that the private sector economy is "doing fine" ended with a monumental shift in focus when the White House announced the Department of Homeland Security would no longer deport illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. when they were young and had received a high school diploma or served in the military. Though economic news has not been in Obama's favor, with unemployment rising to 8.2 percent last month, this new step could shore up his support among Latino voters.

The shift in policy largely mirrors a Republican immigration reform proposal spearheaded by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, making it difficult for some Republicans to attack the substance of the move -- though many have expressed outrage at the unilateral expression of power from Obama.

"The thing that may disturb people, after the initial euphoria is over about this, is that the president of the United States is now dictating that certain laws will not be enforced. That is a rather serious step," said McCain, who before running for president had worked unsuccessfully with Democrats to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

"It's one thing to say you're not going to challenge a law in court, or something like that, but I don't recall a time when any president has basically said, we're not going to enforce a law that's on the books," McCain said.

He affirmed, however, that the only way the policy change was likely to be challenged is in court. The "agenda that we have" won't allow for legislative action on the issue, he said.

Always an outspoken critic of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allowed previously unseen volumes of outside money to be used in campaigns, McCain again on Sunday called it "the worst decison of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century."

"The fact is that the system is broken," he said. "I predict to you there will be scandals, and I predict to you that there will be reform again."

 

Part of the problem, he said, is that the justices didn't have the experience to understand the gravity of the Citizens United decision.

"Uninformed, arrogant, naive. I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff. That's why we miss people like William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor who had some experience with congressional and other races," he said, referring to the two former justices who had experience serving in government before coming to the Supreme Court.

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