OTR Interviews

Texas Attorney General: Pres. Obama 'Demagoguing' the Border Security-Illegal Immigration Issue

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "ON THE RECORD" GUEST HOST: President Obama heads to Texas, to the border with Mexico. It is his first trip there since taking office. He's already gotten a lot of heat for that over the last couple of years. Lawmakers in the border states have been so persistent in their demands for better border security, but the president had this to say about those critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say, I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time. You know, they said we needed to triple the border patrol. Well, now they're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat!

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: They'll never be satisfied!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Laughs all around on that one, right? So Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott joins me now. Good to have you with us tonight, sir.

GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Martha. Great to be with you.

MACCALLUM: You know, what was your reaction to that? He got a big laugh on that. You know, he basically said, Oh, you know, they're never going to be satisfied. Next thing you know, they're going to want a moat with alligators in it.

ABBOTT: Listen, the president is demagoguing this issue. He had a Democrat Congress, a Democrat Senate, and obviously, a Democrat president for two years where he could really have done something on the immigration issue. And of course, he didn't do anything on the issue. He waited until he began his campaign for reelection to come to Texas, to go to the border for the first time, to now begin to start saying, Well, golly gee, we need to do something about the immigration issue.

It proves one thing, Martha, and that is Barack Obama doesn't care about doing anything about the immigration issue, doesn't care about doing anything about the border. He just cares about campaigning for reelection. He just left Austin, Texas, moments ago, where he came here to get $50,000 per couple. He comes to Texas to drain our pockets of money, but doesn't us help when we have fires burning hundreds of thousands of acres and doesn't do anything to protect our security on the border.

MACCALLUM: You touched on...

ABBOTT: He missed...

MACCALLUM: Yes, you touch on a couple of very important points here. And the first one is the political element to all of this. The president had very broad support in the Hispanic vote back in 2008. In 2009, I think he had 70-something percent. I think we have those numbers. We can show them to you. Those numbers have been falling lately, down to about 54 percent. He's now in a position -- and tell me if -- you know, this is your read on this -- he's now in a position where he can go out and sort of claim that he wants to see a lot of reform in immigration, try to please voters who really want to see that kind of reform or even, you know, some forms of amnesty, knowing that he will never get it, and therefore, holding onto some of the independent vote, as well, who may be against those measures.

ABBOTT: Right. Importantly, Martha, the point is, he thinks he's in that position. And there's a difference because the reality is the Hispanic voters in Texas and I believe across the country are fed up with Barack Obama's false promises. He made certain promises during his campaign. In fact, in 2007, he promised that in his first year in office, he would ensure that an immigration reform law was passed. And of course, despite having a Democrat Congress, he didn't do anything about it.

But more importantly, these two quick points, and that is the people who suffer the first danger because of bullets flying across the border, quite literally, in El Paso are members of the Hispanic community. But secondly and more importantly, and that is, the Hispanic community, just like all Americans, care about one issue more than any other, and that is jobs. And Barack Obama has failed to deliver jobs. In fact, his regulation has crushed jobs across the country!

MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you -- because I just want to go back to this issue for one moment in terms of the safety of the border issue because the president went down there and basically, you know, just to pull out of the quote you just heard, he says, All the stuff they've asked for, we've done. Is that true? I mean -- I mean...

ABBOTT: Right.

MACCALLUM: ... they sent more border patrol to the border. They claim that crime is actually falling. So what are you guys so unhappy about is, what he's saying.

ABBOTT: Right. Let me tell you some facts, Martha. One is according to the GAO report, less than half of the Texas physical border is under what they term operational control. What that means is that more than half of the Texas border with Mexico is in danger of being pierced at virtually any time. And truth is, that's been proven by the cartel members.

Just blocks away from where Barack Obama was speaking today, there was an incident where bullets came flying across the border. Seven of them struck city hall in downtown El Paso. Two other incidents in El Paso where bullets came flying across the border.

Barack Obama and this nation and the people of El Paso were lucky those bullets hit buildings and cars instead of people. Barack Obama could have American blood on his hands. In fact, he didn't even pay recognition to the American woman who lost her life who worked in the U.S. consulate office in Juarez and killed by the drug cartels!

Martha, one last point, and that is last year alone, there were more than 3,000 people killed in Juarez, just a few miles away from where Barack Obama spoke today. And that drug cartel violence is just growing worse every year.

MACCALLUM: All right, Attorney General, thank you very much. Great to have you weighing in tonight.

ABBOTT: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Thank you.