Will the Government Face a Lawsuit Over Illegal Immigration?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 21, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The illegal immigration battle could soon open on a new front. Republican Scott Pruitt is running for Oklahoma attorney general. Pruitt says if he wins, he will sue the federal government. For what? Former state senator Scott Pruitt joins us live.

Good evening. So what would you sue the federal government for?

SCOTT PRUITT, R-OKLA., ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: Greta, when you look at the obligation of the federal government to do naturalization and immigration they have a constitutional duty under the constitution to enforce and secure the border.

States like Arizona are being criticized for taking action to protect themselves internal to the borders, and I think the debate is wrongly placed. The debate should be based on what has the government failed to do. It has failed to secure the border, and as a result states like Oklahoma have incurred substantial harm and damages.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your competitor in the race for attorney general says you have been rather -- I'll read this to you, "Your record indicates that you have a history of supporting legislation that rewards illegal immigrants" and points to 2003 when you championed and voted for a Senate bill which provided in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

So how do you reconcile that now to if elected you would go after the federal government for money that you say the federal government owes for the cost of not securing the borders?

PRUITT: Issues today are much different than they were five or six years ago. Today we have states across the country and the federal government facing deficits. We have great damages through educational costs, health care costs, incarceration costs that are mounting.

The states are seeking to do something about that, Greta, and the only way the states can take action is through legislation and a lawsuit through the federal court to say to the federal government you should enforce the borders.

Let me be clear. This president today doesn't need legislation to secure the border. He has that power. He's the commander in chief. He has the power to secure the border today. They've wholly failed to do so. And the state of Oklahoma has to take action to protect itself against that type of harm.

VAN SUSTEREN: What kind of harm does your state -- in a day-to-day basis how does illegal immigration affect Oklahoma?

PRUITT: We are a state that in 2006 did a basic study that showed hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to the state of Oklahoma, at least $200 million in direct costs.

And that cost is incurred through educational costs, incarcerating prisoners that are illegal immigrants, through, health care-related costs. When you look at the drug cartel, the drug trade, that affects the social cost in Oklahoma. So there are many aspects to our costs in Oklahoma that that affect us as a state.

Greta, when you look at the debate in Arizona and the federal government saying they possess the absolute power under the constitution to enforce and secure the border and don't take the action, what else is a state to do than what Arizona did? What else is a state to do than to initiate a lawsuit saying do your job?

I hope other states will join in the future to hold the federal government accountable for its failure to do its job under the constitution. It is explicit, not discretionary. It is a direct obligation of the federal government.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think the federal government may be getting a wake-up call in terms of the states' getting more upset, especially with these horrible deficits the states are facing and are scrambling to make ends meet and dealing with all sorts of problems associated with illegal immigration.

Maybe the federal government and Congress will take a look at this one, because I think the people are getting madder and madder about this one. Scott, thank you.

PRUITT: Thank you, Greta, I appreciate it.

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