Mary Anne Ostrom
Mercury News
July 15, 2008

SAN DIEGO- John McCain on Monday asked Latinos to trust him on the thorny issue of how to treat the nation’s illegal immigrants, a day after Barack Obama accused the Arizona senator of backing away from his a key position for fear of alienating GOP conservatives.

Far behind in polls that show Obama leading 2 to 1 among Latino voters, a feisty McCain spoke to the National Council of La Raza a day after the Illinois senator, and said he intends to make comprehensive immigration reform a top priority if elected.

But disappointing some at the Latino civil rights gathering, he said he stuck to his position that he only would consider a path to citizenship for illegal residents after he can prove to Americans that the border is secure. Otherwise, he argued, reform measures will never be enacted. He cited fears of national security and that a porous border leads to drug smuggling and other crimes.

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