Senator John McCain has attacked President Obama’s plans for immigration reform, described the issue of same-sex binational families as “a red herring”, and compared same-sex families to abortions.

Plans recently laid out by President Barack Obama for immigration reform, include provisions for recognising same-sex families from different countries, and allowing visas for same-sex couples wishing to live in the US.

Senator McCain dismissed questions about same-sex families and the immigration reform, and when asked his opinion on whether protections should be given to binational same-sex couples, he said it was a “red herring”.

He said: “I think it is a red herring. I think then, do we want to guarantee a tax payer free abortion?” he responded, speaking to Politico. “I’m telling you now, if you love this up with social issues and things that are controversial, the it will endanger the issue.”

“I’ll be glad to talk about, discuss it, what the ramifications are, but if someone does that as the most important aspect of comprehensive immigration reform, then we just have a fundamental disagreement… Which is more important, LGBT or border security?” he concluded.

Reports suggest that the United States is home to at least 28,500 same-sex couples, in which one of whom is a US citizen and the other is not.

This is problematic because federal law does not recognise same-sex relationships, and so it is not permitted to seek a visa based on a same-sex relationship.

Upon predictions of Obama’s immigration reform plan, Senator McCain had already said that he would be likely to disagree on the issue, claiming it was not of “paramount importance”.

Mr McCain was part of a bipartisan group of Senators who proposed an immigration reform framework which, although progressive, was not as liberal as the President’s plan.