This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And the question that's rubbing lots of people the wrong way tonight -- some Democrats think illegal immigrants -- not legal but illegal immigrants should get medical coverage in the new health care bill. Well, what do you think? Now, 22 Democrats in congressman have written a letter to Speaker Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership. The letter says illegal immigrants should be allowed to buy into a government-run health care plan. Why?

Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee signed that letter. She joins us live. Good evening. And why should illegal people here in the United States have that -- have that ability to buy into the program, Congresswoman?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, D - TEXAS: Good evening, Greta. It's a pleasure to be with you and your viewers. First of all, let me say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already committed to the question you posed in the last segment, is that the legislation will be on the Internet and available for the American people to see at least 72 hours before members of Congress...

VAN SUSTEREN: She has...

LEE: ... have a chance...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... but the Senate...

LEE: ... to vote for it.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Senate has not. But indeed, you're right. Speaker Pelosi has. It's the Senate that I'm grumbling about, and I certainly am grateful to Speaker Pelosi on that, so you're absolutely right.

LEE: And as the bill comes back from the Senate in conference, the American people will have the opportunity to see the full and final bill, as well.

But let me indicate to you -- over the past weekend, in my city, the fourth largest city in the nation, a famous personality but a medical professional, Dr. Oz, was here holding an open clinic session. Two thousand people lined up to secure health opportunities or access to health care.

The underlying premise of the health plan that is being proposed by the House and the Senate is to ensure that all Americans are required, all individuals within our boundaries, are required to buy health insurance. The premise, however, is the more the merrier and the healthier the merrier because then that will provide for resources to self-pay for all the Americans who have catastrophic illnesses and sicknesses and long-term chronic illnesses that need health insurance.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, here's what...

LEE: Here is the premise of...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... I don't understand. Let me (INAUDIBLE) OK, Americans, you know, yes, they should be able to, at least in my opinion, have part of the -- whatever program bill (ph), people who are legally in the United States -- you know, people legally in the United States -- people who are illegally in the United States -- why are they even here? And if we can identify them for insurance purposes, maybe we can identify them to get them out of here and let them come back, if they want to come back legally. but as a practical matter (INAUDIBLE) illegally, either you should get the boot or you end up in jail! Or you should -- I mean, (INAUDIBLE) violating the law!

LEE: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: So why should -- why should they be part of this -- the largest of the American people in terms of health care insurance?

LEE: Well, I'll be happy to answer that question, since Texas has the largest number of health -- of individuals that are uninsured, and Texas has large cities like Houston, who likewise -- Houston, Harris County, has the largest number of individuals of a city that are uninsured.

But the premise is that the more people in the system, the less that the system will be a burden. And the answer to your question is because illness and disease and epidemics are not a respecter of status. The idea of the premise of what I signed the letter for is to allow for those in this country that may be un-statused, undocumented, to buy insurance in the exchange that is unsubsidized. So they're using their own money and...

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't -- that -- that's fine...

LEE: ... the key is, this is not something...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's...

LEE: This is not something...

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's -- but that's fine...

LEE: ... where the federal government is paying for. This is where individuals who happen to be in this country...

VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, you're...

LEE: ... be allowed...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what...

LEE: ... to buy the insurance.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the problem. Here's the problem. To do that, we become aiders [and] abetters to encourage people to be here illegally. That's the problem...

LEE: Well, I don't think so.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... is there -- if they're here illegally, they shouldn't be here.

LEE: Well, let me say...

VAN SUSTEREN: And if we can identify them -- OK, but I mean, I -- I - - go ahead.

LEE: Let me say this. I mean, you raise valid points, and I know these are going to be points raised by the American people. First of all, all of us want to ensure that criminal aliens, people who are here to do us harm, are not here in this country. But as you well know, we have another challenge before us is to fix the broken system, as you have indicated, so that people are here who are statused and those individuals who cannot get status for some reason or another are returned back to their country.

But what we're dealing with right now are millions of individuals who are working, paying taxes, and they are in this country. And frankly, if there is immigration reform, they will probably have some opportunity...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well...

LEE: ... to earn access to legalization. But while we're doing that...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, maybe you should do that...

LEE: ... Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... first, though. Maybe...

LEE: While we're doing that...

VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe you should do that first.

LEE: ... we have children -- well, I don't think we can wait while 18,000 people...

VAN SUSTEREN: You own the House!

LEE: ... a year are dying because they don't have any insurance.

VAN SUSTEREN: You own the Senate! You own the White House!

LEE: We can't...

VAN SUSTEREN: You've got all three...

LEE: We can't...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and you've got all three...

LEE: We can't wait another 60 years. And frankly, there are too many people dying because they don't have insurance. And we have an H1N1 potential pandemic and epidemic, and I believe Americans are sensible enough to know that they're already paying for, in essence, uncompensated care for...

VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman...

LEE: ... people who are citizens and non-citizens...

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyone...

LEE: ... who go into hospitals and don't have insurance. We cannot wait. And the only promise of which I signed the letter, and others likewise signed the letter, is the healthier individuals who can come in and buy insurance, unsubsidized by any federal dollars. So really, it's just allowing people to buy insurance...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me just have...

LEE: ... because we -- we're ask people...

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me...

LEE: ... to buy car insurance and we don't ask for their status. I don't want to see someone driving...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me give you...

LEE: ... and doesn't have car insurance.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me give you a quick run -- let me -- let me make a quick answer, and then I got to go, is number one, is if something's catastrophic, we always accept them at the emergency room. We don't ask questions if someone's in a bad car accident. But what -- the whole point that I'm trying to make to you is that when we sort of foster illegal behavior, it's going to just create more illegal behavior, and that's the problem with this.

LEE: And I don't want to do that. I absolutely agree with you. We're going to engage in a discussion on comprehensive immigration reform that answers your concern. But Greta, while we're addressing this question with the pending H1N1 epidemic or pandemic, as it might be, and the idea...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I got to go.

LEE: ... that disease and illness is not a respecter, we've got to address this question.

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and I -- and I got to go. And Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.

LEE: Thank you for having me.

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