• This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

     

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you looking at your watch? Republican members of Congress probably are because in just a matter of hours the historic event. The Republicans take back control of the House from Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Party.

    So what are the Republicans going to do? Republican Congressman Lamar Smith is Chairman-elect of the House Judiciary Committee. He has a plan to take on illegal immigration. Congressman Smith joins us live. Good evening, sir.

    REP. LAMAR SMITH, R-TEXAS, INCOMING CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Greta, good to be with you and your viewers, as well.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Illegal immigration, what are you going to do?

    SMITH: The main thing is create jobs for Americans. I say that because we have 26 million Americans unemployed or under employed. We have seven million in the country working illegally. So if we enforce our immigration laws, we are going to create jobs for American worker that need those jobs. They don't need competition with foreign labor.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Seven million jobs to Americans?

    SMITH: Not all will go to American, but most will, and that will be a huge help to those who are unemployed.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought many of the jobs that illegal immigrants had here in the country were jobs that people said Americans were not inclined to take, maybe picking fruit or doing agriculture -- agricultural jobs.

    SMITH: People say that. But there is no job American won't do. Half of those jobs are being worked by legal immigrants and citizens. In other areas like the high paying jobs in construction industry that pays $17.50, those jobs should be going to Americans.

    VAN SUSTEREN: In the manufacturing area where there might be illegal immigrants being hired, are you going to push for enforcement? The laws have been there, but I don't know how much enforcement there has been.

    SMITH: We haven't had the enforcement. E-verify is a wonderful program. Over 200,000 employers now use e-verify, 1,000 or more roughly are signing up every week. Maybe we need to make it mandatory in some areas. But that is an excellent, an easy way, it just take a few seconds to make sure those jobs go to Americans.

    Let's have a good strong, e-verify program. Let's encourage the administration to enforce immigration laws. Enforcement is down 70 percent in the last two years ago years. The Obama administration's attitude seems to be a worksite encouragement of illegal workers because they are not enforcing laws that say you should not hire illegal workers.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Your district has about 400 miles of border with Mexico?

    SMITH: When I was first elected, I had 400 miles of shared border, and that tended to rivet my intention not only on illegal immigration but also on drug smuggling, human trafficking, another reason why we need to secure the borders.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone has been fighting over this for some time, this illegal immigration going back to the Reagan administration it was a struggle. What will do you?

    SMITH: I would enforce immigration laws that are not being enforced. That will do a great deal to reduce that magnet that draws so many into our country. If there is not the easy availability of jobs fewer people are going to come. If you don't have jobs available people will leave pause they can't get jobs.

    So one way to reduce illegal immigration is enforce the laws that say don't hire illegal workers. But it is not easy, and today you have at least one million people coming into our country illegally every year. We have a long way to go.

    VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine some members of your party are going to want you to do something about people coming into the country illegally and have children here who are naturalized or Americans because they are born here. What is your position on that?

    SMITH: That involves the 14th amendment that some may interpret as saying giving automatic citizenship to those who are born in the country even if both parents are here illegally. That is a legitimate subject and we will get to that --

    VAN SUSTEREN: What is your position?

    SMITH: I think at least one parent should be in the country legally before we automatically make all the children instant citizens. That is not the intent of the 14th amendment, in my judgment. But our early months are going to be focused on creating jobs in America, worksite enforcement, e-verify program. When unemployment is 9.8 percent, that should be our focus.

    VAN SUSTEREN: What did you learn from being in the minority?

    SMITH: I'm going try to be more bipartisan. I had a good working relationship with John Conyers. That will continue. I want to make sure when Democrats have a good idea get credit for it, and if they have a bill that has bipartisan support, we'll pass it.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think there should be amendments to repeal health care? Not whether health care should be repealed or there, but that there should be amendments?

    SMITH: On the first vote it is up or down. That's what we promised the American people. After that the leadership has told us get ready you are going to be spending a lot of time on the House floor because we are going to treat the Democrats better than they treated us. That's the right way to pass legislation. We'll get better legislation.

    Something else GOP leadership will do is to require every bill to be out in the public for 72 hours let the American people read the bill and tell their representatives how they feel about it.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you.

    SMITH: Thank you.