Tucson – A group representing Hispanics wants 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain to apologize for having blamed a massive Arizona wildfire on undocumented immigrants now that federal prosecutors have charged two U.S. citizens in connection with the blaze.
"In June 2011, Arizona Sen. John McCain inappropriately blamed the Arizona blazes on 'illegal' immigrants, and he has failed to apologize even though there was no factual evidence the fires were started by immigrants," the National Tequila Party Movement said.
Federal prosecutors announced this week that two U.S. citizens will face charges they caused the Wallow blaze by leaving a campfire unattended.
"We insist that Sen. McCain apologize for blaming the fires on immigrants because the hate climate in Arizona is flagrant," the Tequila Party said in a statement.
A McCain apology "would send a positive message to the nation that ... we cannot and must not continue to blame undocumented immigrants and use them as scapegoats," the group said.
Hate crimes have increased by 125 percent in Phoenix in recent years, the Tequila Party said.
McCain, according to spokesman Brian Rogers, never mentioned undocumented immigrants in connection with the Wallow fire, but simply repeated comments from Forest Service officials who told him that some wildfires along the U.S.-Mexico border were attributable to migrants.