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 to back his claim (see video below).
Speaking from his home state Saturday, McCain said there was "substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally." He didn't specify what evidence, however.
The comment drew criticism, including from an unsuccessful candidate in Arizona's Democratic Senate primary in 2010, who accused McCain of fanning "the flames of intolerance."
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."