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McCain: Cut Aid to Countries Fueling Immigration Crisis

McCain is planning a bill that would let veterans bypass the VA for health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
McCain is planning a bill that would let veterans bypass the VA for health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A GOP architect of the Senate’s immigration plan is calling for at least threatening to cut aid to Central American countries that don’t take steps to stop the flow of unaccompanied migrant children to the United States. “We should tell these countries in Central America that no more aid, no more assistance, no nothing until they stop this from happening,” Arizona Sen. John McCain told KFYI radio in Phoenix. It’s been widely reported that most of the children come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.  

“And tell our friends in Mexico to secure their border, their Southern border as well as their Northern border, and no comprehensive immigration reform until we get our border secured. It’s unacceptable,” McCain continued. “It’s a human tragedy, and when they encourage people to come up through Mexico … they are subjecting these young people, and primarily young women to the worst kinds of abuse.”  

McCain said he had heard from Customs and Border Protection that there were signs in recent months that the unaccompanied migrant crisis was approaching, but he did not know whether President Barack Obama had been briefed.  

“He sure as heck should have, should have been informed and he should have known that this is coming,” McCain said. “It is one of the most, frankly, disappointing things for me personally because as you know, I’ve been for comprehensive immigration reform. You can’t do that unless you have secure borders.”  

McCain’s comments come as the administration is readying a supplemental spending request to address the issue of the flood of unaccompanied children and also pushing related administrative changes. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that full details of the request were expected Tuesday.  

The Senate Appropriations Committee has already announced a hearing on the request for Thursday afternoon. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson are the headline witnesses.  

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.