This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, "Bodies piling up." That's the recent headline in The Laredo Morning Times reporting on violence just feet away from the American city across the border in Mexico. We asked Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano if people in Texas are flipping out over the violence.
JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I wouldn't say the people of Laredo are flipped out or the people in the border towns themselves, border communities themselves are flipped out.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's my word.
NAPOLITANO: That's your word. But I think we all realize that we cannot simply sit back because we haven't had significant spillover violence and assume that we won't have significant spillover violence across this border.
VAN SUSTEREN: Really? Texas attorney general Greg Abbott knows about cross-border violence. He joins us now. Good evening, sir. And tell me your thoughts on our interview with the secretary of Homeland Secretary, Janet Napolitano, about violence and whether it's going to spill over in greater amount to your state.
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, thank you, Greta. I think her response indicates the lack of urgency. And they simply don't get the need to respond quicker, more effectively because the violence has already spilled over.
And if I could, let me just tick through a couple of examples. Just a few blocks from where you conducted that interview, just a couple of months ago, the cartels launched a hand grenade into the U.S. consulate building there in Nuevo Laredo. Also, as you know, bullets riddled (ph) across the Texas border from Juarez into the El Paso city hall just a couple of weeks ago, could have killed Americans, fortunately did not. But a few months before that, bullets also riddled across the border from the drug cartels into the Brownsville area. It shut down University of Texas at Brownsville for three days because of that cross-border fire.
Unfortunately, though, the crime streams across the border. On the 4th of July, a 14-year-old girl was raped by two illegal immigrants just down the road from Austin, Texas. We see this crime on a daily basis. The federal government must respond more effectively, step up their enforcement and protection of the border before more American blood is shed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me add just a couple more to you, rather stunning things. One is the report today, at least in The Houston Chronicle, because we left Houston today, in which it says that the nephew of the governor-elect of Chihuahua, one of the border states in Mexico, was murdered, shot in the back as he was running around, by a drug cartel. That's reported in this morning's paper.
And then, of course, today the confirmation that a car bomb went off yesterday in the border city of Juarez, three dead, including police. And you know, it's stunning, the violence. I mean, it's -- I don't know. Is there -- do you think it's war down there? Is that overstated?
ABBOTT: Well, absolutely. Let me just add two more on top of that. You mentioned one of the bordering states, the leading gubernatorial candidate in the Mexico state that is in Juarez was killed just a couple of weeks ago. Also, an American worker in the U.S. consulate office in Juarez was killed a couple of weeks ago. This is violence that we are seeing up on the border but also spilling across the border. And we must see a greater sense of urgency in the response by the United States government.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess -- I mean, I could go back and forth with you, and I guess we could do this all night. The worker at the American -- who was working at the embassy -- she was -- it was an afternoon when she was with her family coming from a birthday party just recently, and she was murdered in her car. And I guess someone watching this could say, Well, we have a lot of crime here in the United States. But for some reason, you know, this is just -- is so -- so stunning just, you know, inches away from our country that I don't know if it's overstating it by saying there's a war down there or if I'm an alarmist or if it's the federal government just is not sufficiently paying attention to this.
ABBOTT: Well, Greta, look at the raw numbers. We can leave out the hyperbole or the words. Look at the raw numbers. More lives have been lost because of the war with the drug cartels in Juarez alone, just a few blocks from the United States of America, than have been lost in the war in Afghanistan. Over the past couple of years, more than 2,400 people in Juarez alone have been killed because of the drug cartel war, more than 5,000 across the country of Mexico. It is more dangerous to walk the streets of Juarez a few blocks from El Paso than it is to walk the streets of Baghdad.
So there is a very serious problem that's beginning to bulge at our borders and puts American lives at risk. Any time you see cartel bullets piercing the border, ripping into American buildings, the United States government must step up and respond to ensure that more American blood is not shed. Ask this one question, and it needs to be repeated every day. How many Americans must lose their lives, how many young girls must be raped before the United States government responds adequately?
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now to a couple quick questions. One is I should -- I should repeat that yesterday, the secretary of Homeland Security announced $47 million to deal with some of our border issues, including $17 million to Texas. But let me turn to the other, is that your state -- or you're filing an amicus brief, or have, to join with other states in Arizona on this whole issue of SB1070. And while you're the attorney general of Texas, it's worth noting that before that, you've been on the high court of Texas state courts, the Texas supreme court. So it's not like you're coming to this new. But you find the amicus, and your governor agrees to it, right?
ABBOTT: That's correct. Let me...
VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you filing it?
ABBOTT: ... let me explain why we -- let me explain -- and also, let me, if I could, explain something most Americans don't understand. Most Americans believe what Janet Napolitano told you last night, and that is the U.S. Constitution vests with, her words, the federal government the authority to control immigration. The Constitution provides in very simple language, seven words in article I, that the United States Congress must establish uniform laws concerning naturalization. That's it.
What people don't know is the United States Congress has established laws that empower states to enforce the federal immigration laws. For decades, states have been doing that because Congress has empowered them to do so. Federal courts, from the 4th circuit, the 5th circuit, the 8th, 9th and 10th circuits and the United States Supreme Court all have held that the states have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
The Obama administration is trying to use executive authority to skirt around the legislative authority enacted by Congress and upheld by the courts that allow the states to enforce these immigration laws. Once again, we're battling against a Washington, D.C., federalism-based issue that's trying to trump states' rights to protect their people.
VAN SUSTEREN: Attorney General, thank you, sir.
ABBOTT: My pleasure. Thank you, Greta.