Feb 16thMcCain: ‘I won’t give up’ on immigration reform

Sen. John McCain said Sunday he’s not abandoning immigration reform this year, warning that the country’s changing demographics make reform an imperative task for Republicans.

“I have not given up hope that we will act – and we must act,” the Arizona Republican told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.”

McCain, a co-author of a Senate immigration reform bill, said he remains hopeful a House Republican plan can move forward.

House Republicans laid out last month a blueprint of immigration “standards,” saying there “will be no special path to citizenship” for the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The GOP principles call instead for a path to legalization – and only after those already in the country illegally get at the back of the line and the federal government continues to bolster border security.

But Speaker John Boehner later signaled any action is unlikely this year, because House Republicans don’t trust President Barack Obama on the issue.

“I won’t give up. We have the broadest coalition of support of any legislation I’ve ever been involved in – big businesses, small businesses, evangelicals, Catholic Church – the list goes on and on. It’s time for those people to weigh in and bring pressure to bear and say look, we need to act,” he said.

McCain, who is serving his fifth term in the Senate, said his assessment last year that his party cannot win another election without immigration reform remains true, as “the demographics will overtake” many parts of the country.

“Again I urge my House colleagues to consider whatever way they want to pursue to try to address this issue, because it’s going to have to be addressed. And to wait until 2015, when we’re now involved in Republican primaries, (is) obviously not be a viable scenario,” he said.

The Senate passed a comprehensive bill that included a path to citizenship last year, but the House has not taken up the measure.