McCain defends remark on immigrants

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Monday defended his statement over the weekend that illegal immigrants were responsible for some Arizona wildfires, citing congressional testimony and published reports.

McCain said Saturday there was "substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally." He offered no specifics.

Speaking on the "Imus in the Morning" show Monday, McCain stood by his statement.

"I was briefed by the Forest Service about the fact that illegal immigrants sometimes start these fires," he said. And there has been testimony by service officials that "large numbers of warming and cooking fires built and abandoned by cross-border violators have caused wildfires that have destroyed cultural and natural resources."

He also cited a Los Angeles Times report backing his claim, though it was unclear which story he was referring to.

Imus challenged McCain, saying the reports don't prove illegal immigrants were responsible for the so-called Wallow blaze raging through eastern parts of the state.

McCain said he never was referring to that specific fire.