McCain: I Won’t Stop Saying ‘Illegal’ Immigrants

At a town hall meeting Monday in Phoenix, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday fielded a question from a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant who wondered if the former GOP presidential nominee might shelve the term “illegal immigrant.”

But the longtime senator told the “dreamer” —  which refers to immigrants brought to the United States as children — that the term remains appropriate under certain circumstances.

“Someone who crosses our borders illegally is here illegally,” McCain said, according to “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.”

The term has long been a source of acrimony among many Latinos and civil liberties advocates, who argue that violating the country’s immigration laws does not constitute a crime and that “undocumented immigrant” is a preferable description. 

h/t Politico


Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at