OTR Interviews

The Obama Administration or the State of Arizona: Who Has the Edge in the Supreme Immigration Law Showdown?

Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer applauds High Court's decision to hear challenge, but who has the advantage?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer says she is tired for waiting for Washington to secure the border. Now the United States Supreme Court will decide how much power the state of Arizona has.

Today, the high court announced it will decide if the Arizona illegal immigration statute is constitutional or not. The Obama administration has challenged the law, they won in court of appeals. But now Arizona is fighting back, asking Supreme Court to jump in and decide it once and for all. And today, the Supreme Court says it will decide once and for all.

Of course, the timing of the decision by the court is a bit politically awkward. A ruling on this politically charge case is expected in June, just weeks before the political conventions. Governor Jan Brewer joins us. Good evening, governor.

ARIZONA GOV. JAN BREWER: Good evening, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, after two losses, one in trial court and one in the U.S. court of appeals, I imagine tonight you are pleased with the Supreme Court decision to hear the case.

BREWER: We are absolutely pleased in Arizona. I think all of America is pleased. And I commend the United States Supreme Court for agreeing to hear it. We need clarity.

VAN SUSTEREN: One thing that is interesting is the court, of course, has nine justices on it. One of the justices, Justice Elena Kagan has disqualified herself from the decision whether to hear it or not. Now it will be a four-four. Any thoughts on the fact it's only eight justices, probably?

BREWER: I am very pleased she did disqualify herself. I think she definitely had a conflict. But it leaves us with eight Supreme Court justices. So I'm counting on the four that supported us in the employer sanction led legislation and ruled in our favor. I'm hoping that the Kennedy hangs with us and we get a positive judgment from the Supreme Court. I feel very confident.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in many ways this is a very complicated issue. One is the securing the border. Most Republicans agree to secure the border. Then the second one is what to do with the illegal citizens who are already in this country. I realize your statute, what your statute entails. But I'm curious, what is your thought? I suspect that you want to first secure the border. But what is sort of your thought on what can be done with the illegal people already here from a practical standpoint?

BREWER: Well, you know, first, let me say Greta first and foremost, absolutely, we have to have our borders secured because of the terrible policies and the method of which the federal government has not reacted to the public has just created devastation in our state and in the United States. Talking about what we are going to do before we decide the borders are secured is getting the cart before horse. I don't want to talk about it until we get it secured. There's a lot of methods can be talked about. Right now, the federal government absolutely needs to step up and do the job that they are responsible for.

VAN SUSTEREN: A lot of people agree with you it should be done in a two-step process, first to secure the border. At some point, if it were done in that way to secure the border first, we can't just sort of put off the decision whether you know people are to be thrown out, given a path to citizenship, given working papers. We have to really sort of confront this important issue for so many people and for so many Americans.

BREWER: I understand that. It will very difficult to go in and deport 11 million, 12 million people. And how we are going to address that issue is very, very complicated. Of course, after the border is secured I think a real sensible debate can take place and a solution can be found.

Comprehensive immigration reform giving amnesty totally to these people in my opinion is completely totally wrong. But a solution has to be found. I think collectively together we can do that. There is a lot of, tonight we are not going to discuss all the different banners of how we take care of that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, if you come up for the argument before the Supreme Court I hope you will join us on set to talk about it.

BREWER: You bet. It sure will.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, governor.