Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema on 'Your World'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," July 6, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRIAN SULLIVAN, GUEST HOST: All right, let’s get the other side. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is an Arizona state representative who opposes the Arizona law, and she welcomes the court action as well.

Thank you very much for joining us.

You just heard one side. Obviously, the state senator is pretty -- is pretty against the lawsuit and in favor of the law. You’re the opposite side. How come?

KYRSTEN SINEMA, D-ARIZ. STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, as a constitutional attorney, I think it’s very clear that the Department of Justice has the authority to bring this lawsuit.

And my hope is that this lawsuit can bring some clarity, not just to Arizona, but to all the states across the country. Right now, in the absence of federal action, states like Arizona and surrounding states are enacting their own policies, some of which are constitutional and some are not.

We really need the court’s guidance to figure out, where is that line? Where does our authority end, and where does the federal government’s authority begin?

Hopefully, this lawsuit will create that line for us.

SULLIVAN: Congresswoman, how much authority do you believe that the state, your state, should have on this matter? How much are you willing to cede to the federal government?

SINEMA: Well, it’s not really a question of what I’m willing to cede. It’s a question of what our U.S. Constitution permits. And, as an American, born and bred...

SULLIVAN: Permits anything that is not expressly not permitted.

SINEMA: Right. Right.

Well, the supremacy clause of the United States clearly says that the federal government has priority over the laws of the land. And for the last 234 years, the United States federal government has enacted immigration policy and not allowed the states to do very much.

Now, there are some things that we can do and that we have done. In fact, Russell and I have worked together on legislation to help stop human smuggling rings and violent cartels operating on the border. And I believe that’s well within our authority as state actors. But enacting reform of this type at the state level, that SB1070 attempts to do, I think does exceed our constitutional authority.

And that’s why Congress really needs to step up and have the moral courage to enact comprehensive reform, so we don’t have patchwork measures that vary from state to state to state, creating confusion for folks who travel from one state to the other.

SULLIVAN: And what is your reaction, though, to three House Democrats in Arizona supporting the law?

SINEMA: Well, we have a number of House Democrats who don’t support the law, but who oppose federal intervention in the form of a lawsuit.


SULLIVAN: Isn’t that really the same thing? If the feds don’t intervene, the law will be enacted in three weeks.

SINEMA: Oh, no, no, no, no. There’s already five other lawsuits in place. And, in fact, there will be a hearing on July 15 about whether or not the law will go into effect.

That’s without the Department of Justice. So, there’s already lawsuits proceeding. But I think it’s important to note that, what the three House Democrats saying what really needs to happen is Congress needs to take federal action. And I have to say I think all Arizonans can agree with that.

Disregarding the lawsuit, whether or not it goes forward or not doesn’t really matter. What really matters is comprehensive reform that’s tough and solves the problems that Arizona faces and that the rest of the nation faces. And that’s Congress’ duty. They have completely failed in that duty.

SULLIVAN: So, where is the fine line then? What would you support in Arizona, minimizing some of the problems associated with illegal immigration...

SINEMA: Right.

SULLIVAN: ...and yet in your view not stepping on the powers of the federal government?

SINEMA: Well, that’s a great question.

And so I will give you a couple of examples of bills that I have sponsored in the past and that have become law through bipartisan action. These are under Governor Brewer’s leadership as well. So, for instance, we gave prosecutors and law enforcement greater tools to crack down on individuals who engage in violent human smuggling across the Arizona-Mexico border.

We have started to crack down on drop houses, which are places where smugglers take people, capture them, hold them for ransom, abuse, beat them, sometimes even rape and kill them. So, we need to give local law enforcement and prosecutors greater tools to crack down on these criminal syndicates who are operating this kind of really dangerous activity in our state.

SULLIVAN: Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, we have got to leave it there, but thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SINEMA: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks so much.

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