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John McCain defends immigration policy in testy town hall exchange [VIDEO]

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   Feb. 20, 2013 at 11:46 AM  |  Updated Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM   |   Comments

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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A town hall meeting with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., showed just how difficult compromise over immigration reform can be.

At the Tuesday meeting in Sun Lakes, Ariz., McCain faced frustrated constituents who questioned the lawmaker's bipartisan approach to immigration reform.

Arizona Nightly News captured one especially testy back-and-forth between McCain and resident Kevin Smith, who accused the senator of giving benefits to illegal immigrants and of failing to build a border fence.

"Cut off their welfare and all their stuff, and they’ll go back," Smith said.

"Where's the fence?" he added.

"You're not telling these people the truth," McCain said. [Immigrants] mow our lawns, they care for our babies."

According to CNN, McCain opened the town hall by saying he would "any comments, questions, or insults that you may have."

"You're stealing from everybody in this audience right here," Smith said in another clip. "You're taking away from their social security to give it to an dependent class of people."

Though McCain went so far as to call the man a "jerk," the long-time lawmaker seemed to take the tough questioning in stride, later telling a local talk radio show that debate was just par for the course.

“People are involved, engaged, and lots of feisty questions and a lot of back and forth and that's what town hall meetings are supposed to be about, as long as they're respectful,” he said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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