Feb 19, 2013 6:28 PM by Associated Press

McCain defends immigration plan to angry residents

Sen. John McCain is defending his proposed immigration overhaul to angry residents in suburban Arizona.

McCain said during a town hall meeting Tuesday that any path to citizenship must require immigrants to learn English and pay back taxes.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says immigration reform will strengthen the nation's border against criminals.

Napolitano toured the border near Nogales Tuesday with the highest-ranking official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the incoming chairman of the Senate's homeland security committee and an Arizona congressman.

During the tour, Napolitano met with Border Patrol agents.

Napolitano says border crossings are down 50 percent since 2008 and 78 percent since their peak in 2000.

Her visit is the latest sign that Arizona could play a prominent role in the national immigration debate.


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