OTR Interviews

Inside a Texas Congressman's Meeting with Mexican President Calderon -- and a Declaration of 'War' on Drug Cartels

Texas Congressman Michael McCaul recalls visit with Mexican Pres. Calderon, sounds off on escalating violence, drug cartel and border security concerns

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We are live in Houston, Texas. And there is lots of controversy brewing here in Texas between Texas Governor Perry and President Obama. President Obama was down here in Texas about 10 days ago, and he had lots to say. But now Governor Perry is firing back, and now taking us right to the scene, to the border. That is what you'll see tomorrow night.

But in the meantime, Governor Perry isn't the only Texan fired up about the border and illegal immigration. So is Congressman Michael McCaul, a Republican. Congressman McCaul even went to Mexico this weekend to see Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, about the crisis.

Congressman Michael McCaul joins us. Good evening, sir. And tell me, what did you and President Calderon discuss?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: Well, good evening, Greta. And let me say first, welcome to Texas. I wish I was down there with you.

But we had a very productive, good meeting. I talked about the fact that we need to do more, that we need to do more than what we're currently doing. The plan is not working. This administration doesn't have a strategy or a plan to deal with the region. I believe we need to look at what we did in Colombia. We visited Colombia with the president down there. We had a strategy that worked in Colombia. It was a joint intelligence, joint military operation. I presented that plan to President Calderon and said, We can do that in Mexico, as well, if you would let us do that. In addition, the Colombians...

VAN SUSTEREN: There seems...

MCCAUL: Go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just say that there seem to be two different problems -- I mean -- the only place where there isn't sort of a parallel between the two is that in addition to the drugs is that we also have the illegal immigration issue with Mexico, one where President Calderon has not been happy with what some people have said, some leaders in this country have said about that, which is different than the Colombia issue. Did he address that at all with you?

MCCAUL: He did bring up illegal immigration. Obviously, I disagree with him on that. I think, you know, our president said it's never been more secure down there. I totally disagree with our president. I think Calderon has his own immigration problems. And when you look at the laws of his country, they're actually far more harsher than our immigration laws.

So you know, but my view is we got a two -- we need to have a two- pronged approach. One is to secure this side of the border. But the other is take the fight to the cartels offensively. You know, we can defend our side of the border, but if we don't offensively go in to take out these cartels not only in Mexico, but in Central America, we're going to lose this fight. And this fight is right on our doorstep.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's interesting is that he actually -- I mean, of the recent present, he's been very aggressive in Mexico internally, trying to fight it. I don't -- I don't know -- I mean, he hasn't had horrible -- he hasn't had incredible success, but he's tried to fight it. He's thrown the police out, essentially, and put the military in place because the police were so corrupt. I mean, he's been battling that aspect of it. At least -- it appears to be a war. Does he call it a "war"?

MCCAUL: He calls it a "war." He said, I declared war. And I think it's important to remember -- I commended him for his political courage to take on these dangerous drug cartels. They are training a police force down there, 35,000, 100,000 more to go. I personally think the Colombians have a lot to offer in terms of their special operation forces that could train the Mexicans to win this war, and not only that, but help them fight this war against the drug cartels. That, in my view, because they fit in better with the culture and the language, is I think one of the best answers to resolving this.

And we got to look in the interior. You know, when I held hearings on this issue, there was -- we found out there's really no plan or strategy down there. And I think the region needs a plan. And when it comes to this side of the border, we got two divergent opinions, one from Washington saying that it's more secure than it's ever been, the other from our Texas DPS officers and sheriffs and people who are on the ground, who deal with this issue day in and day out, saying that, No, it is not secure. And we need to do more to secure this side of the border.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

MCCAUL: Thank you, Greta.