Ariz. Sen. Accuses Obama of Holding Border 'Hostage'

By R. Stickney
|  Monday, Jun 21, 2010  |  Updated 1:25 PM PDT
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Ariz. Sen. Accuses Obama of Holding Border 'Hostage'

AP

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Sen. Jon Kyl R-Ariz. claims President Barack Obama told him that he would not secure the U.S.-Mexico border without some agreement from Congressional Republicans on amnesty for illegal immigrants, a statement that the White House denies.

Kyl told a group of constituents in North Tempe of a private meeting he had recently with the president in the Oval Office. Kyl said he “kicked everyone out” and discussed border security with the president one-on-one.

“Here’s what the president said. The problem is, if we secure the border then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform,” he said to gasps from the crowd.

“In other words, they’re holding it hostage,” Kyl told the crowd. “ They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it’s combined with comprehensive immigration reform.”

They want to get something in return for doing their duty, Kyl said.

The White House denied the account over the weekend, and Obama spokesman Bill Burton restated that position Monday when questioned by reporters.

"The president didn't say that," Burton said of Kyl's account. "Sen. Kyl knows the president didn't say that."

Asked if Kyl was lying or indulging in "political exaggeration," Burton replied: "I'll let other folks make that determination."

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer denied Kyl’s account of the conversation to POLITICO.

“The president didn’t say that and Senator Kyl knows it,” Pfeiffer told the political blog.

Kyl spokesperson Ryan Patmintra told ABC News that the senator stood by his account, which he said was "about as straight forward as you can get."

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