Arizona Sen. John McCain: Wall isn’t enough to secure border

Jan 15, 2017, 10:09 AM

WASHINGTON – One day after President-elect Donald Trump promised to start working “immediately” on a wall on the Mexico border, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said a wall alone would not be sufficient to secure the border.

McCain, speaking to reporters Thursday, made the comment in response to a question about Trump’s statement a day earlier that Vice President-elect Mike Pence had already started working to secure the legislative and agency approvals needed to start on the wall.

McCain said he has not spoken with Pence, but that it will take “a lot more than walls” to close the border.

“I know what it takes to have border security,” McCain said during a break in the hearing on James Mattis’ nomination to be Trump’s secretary of Defense. “It’s a lot more than walls … it’s surveillance, it’s electronics, it’s interception teams, it’s a broad mosaic.”

McCain went on to say that Trump’s nominee for Homeland Security secretary, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, “understands all that very well.” McCain introduced Kelly at a Senate confirmation hearing earlier this week.

Attempts to contact the Trump transition team were not immediately returned Thursday.

But in his first news conference since the election, Trump on Wednesday reiterated the pledge that became a cornerstone of his campaign rallies: to a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it. And Trump said his administration is already working on it.

“I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get to office, but I don’t want to wait,” Trump said at the news conference televised from the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, where he has been planning the transition.

“Mike Pence is leading an effort to get final approvals through various agencies and through Congress for the wall to begin,” Trump said. “I don’t feel like waiting a year or year and a half. We’re going to start building.”

He went on to say that Mexico will end up bearing the cost of a wall “in some form, and there are many different forms.”

“They will reimburse us for the cost of a wall. That will happen,” Trump said. “Whether it’s a tax or a payment. Probably less likely that it’s a payment. It will happen.”

When asked whether he thought that the build-the-wall pledges was just an empty campaign promise, McCain demurred.

“I don’t know. I’ll let you be the judge,” he said.

Mattis’ hearing was the latest in a series of Senate hearings since Congress returned last week on Trump nominees, with most Cabinet-level leadership positions already identified by the transition team.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

indicted in fake elector scheme Arizona Republicans...

State grand jury indicts 11 Arizona Republicans in fake elector investigation

Eleven defendants were indicted in a fake elector scheme on Wednesday, according to Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes.

21 minutes ago

Boy injured after hit-and-run died, Glendale police say...

13-year-old boy hit by truck in Glendale 2 weeks ago dies

The Glendale Police Department announced that a 13-year-old boy injured by a hit-and-run died on Tuesday after two weeks in the hospital.

3 hours ago

Image shows Chucho Produce facility in Nogales. (Chucho Produce)...

SuElen Rivera

4 Arizona businesses get nearly $1M from USDA for clean energy projects

The funding totaling $975,000 was provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the Department of Agriculture.

4 hours ago

A collage of photos showing a wooden raft, a headshot of Thomas L. Robison, and a photo of the miss...

Man who may have taken homemade raft onto Colorado River in Arizona goes missing

A man who may have been trying to float down the Colorado River with his dog on a homemade raft is missing.

5 hours ago

Split image of the Arizona flag on the left and state Rep. Matt Gress on the House floor April 24, ...

Democrats in Arizona House get enough GOP help to pass bill to repeal near-total abortion ban

Arizona House Democrats, with help from a few Republicans, passed a bill Wednesday to repeal the state’s near-total abortion ban.

6 hours ago

Follow @suelenrivera...

SuElen Rivera

Arizona’s oldest predominantly Black community listed on National Register of Historic Places

The Randolph Townsite Historic District located 50 miles southeast of Phoenix was listed as a traditional cultural place.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Arizona Sen. John McCain: Wall isn’t enough to secure border