Mexican immigrants illegally enter the United States every day, often scaling 18-foot-tall fences in the hope of finding work or, in some cases, trafficking drugs. But one woman picked the wrong day and the wrong place to cross over, jumping into America just a few yards away from four US senators who were visiting the Arizona border as part of a fact-finding tour.

Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Democrat Michael Bennet of Utah and Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York were near the town of Nogales when the illegal immigrant made her mad dash and ended up in the waiting arms of US Customs and Border Patrol officers.

McCain tweeted the surprising event Wednesday afternoon.

‘Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18-ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogales,’ he wrote.

‘Border Patrol successfully apprehended her, but incident is another reminder that threats to our border security are real.’

The Center for Immigration Studies estimated in 2008 that there were 11 million immigrants with no documentation living illegally in the United States. Most of them crossed the border from Mexico.

But the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2006 that an Arizona labor union representing border patrol agents estimated that the number was somewhere between 12 million and 15 million.

The Pew Research Center published data in 2010 that showed 63 percent of adult illegal immigrants had been living in the US for at least 10 years.

President Barack Obama has put political muscle behind an effort, first announced in a 2012 White House Rose Garden speech, to mainstream illegal immigrants into US society and provide them with a path toward legal status – and, some say, citizenship.

Some Republican lawmakers have claimed the administration’s efforts are aimed at creating a new class of Hispanic voters who, like many African-Americans after President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs took effect, would show their gratitude with Democratic Party loyalty.

But Obama has said his initiative is more about fairness and practicality than politics. Giving illegal immigrants some sort of legal documentation would allow federal and state government agencies to track their whereabouts, tax their earnings and get an accurate sense of ow many of them are in the country.

Conservatives counter that among the costs associated with granting legal status to illegal immigrants, the health care costs alone would put an unprecedented strain on the federal budget, driving up annual deficits post the point where new tax revenues could offset them.

They also don’t relish the idea of rewarding unlawful behavior with what amounts to a gradual amnesty, providing new incentives for more immigrants to cross the border, or displacing American citizens from jobs that have become scarce in a down economy.

Obama described his plan in 2012 as the eventual outcome of a series of executive orders that would not need congressional approval. But Republicans in Congress suggested they could hold up the funding required to implement those orders unless the Department of Homeland Security made a serious effort first to seal the border with Mexico.

The four senators who visited the border Wednesday are part of a larger group of lawmakers, the so-called Gang of Eight, who are shaping and negotiating details of an immigration reform package. When Congress reconvenes in April, that package is expected to be made public

Sen. McCain’s spokesman would not comment on the episode at the Arizona-Mexico border beyond pointing MailOnline to the senator’s tweets. Spokespersons for Sens. Flake, Schumer and Bennet did not respond to requests for comment.

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