OTR Interviews

Perry sets the record straight on illegal immigrant kids: The President of the United States must deal with this

Texas governor on why he believes the Obama administration has fueled a 'surge' in illegal immigrant children in the US and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, which is it, motivating or insulting? Maine's Republican governor, Paul LePage, sending this message to America's unemployed.


PAUL LEPAGE, GOVERNOR OF MAINE: Maine's welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government! I am compassionate and committed to our children, our elderly and our disabled. But to all you able-people out there, get off the couch and get yourself a job!



VAN SUSTEREN: Does Governor LePage have a point, or did he go too far. Texas Governor Rick Perry joins us right here in Dallas.

Good evening, Governor.

TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening. Glad to have you in Texas.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm glad to be here. All right, Republican governor of Maine saying that able-bodied people get off the couch and get a job. What do you think?

PERRY: Yes. Well, absolutely. I think, you know, it's our responsibility to make sure we put good tax policies, good regulatory policies, good legal policies in place so that those jobs can be created -- 330,000 new jobs created in the state of Texas from February of 2011 to 2012.

So you know, I think we're doing our part in the state of Texas. Now, other governors need to be challenged to put those policies in place to make sure that they have those jobs that are created for people who are looking for work.

But if folks are just, you know, on the welfare ride for the sake of welfare ride, you bet. You know, Governor LePage has got it spot on. But the fact is, we both have our jobs to do. We do it pretty good in the state of Texas.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, though, that there are a lot of people who are, quote, able-bodied, who might be insulted by that, about being told to get off the couch? Because it's pretty -- there are a lot of dispirited people in this country, and for good reason. They've been without jobs for -- you know, for a number -- a number of months, in some instances, years. Their houses are underwater.

Do you think saying, you know, able-bodied people get off the couch is a rather prudent way to encourage people?

PERRY: Well, here's what I think, is that state governments need to be doing everything they can to make sure those he jobs can be created there. You know, the federal government doesn't help us by, you know, their stimulus programs and the spending that they've done and the regulatory climate they put in place.

This administration, I think, has done more to kill jobs and to talk people away from expending dollars and creating those opportunities for wealth. And that's what we need to be doing.

But the idea that a governor is cajoling folks to, you know, get out there and get involved in the workforce -- you know, there may be some folks that are offended by that. I'm not.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's talk about what's going on in this state with illegal immigration. There's a new controversy about whether or not -- I think you wrote a letter -- about whether or not the children -- that Obama administration is allowing children who are not citizens of the United States to come across the border into your state unlawfully.

PERRY: Yes, about 80 percent of all of these unaccompanied minors are coming in across the Texas border. You know, you go back and illegal immigration has been an issue for many, many years here, compounded by the drug cartels realizing that the Mexican-U.S. border was a place that they could operate almost with impunity. In some places, as a matter of fact, they have operational control on some sides of the border.

We had, I think, 23 citizens in Mexico, most likely -- I don't know if they've been identified yet -- in Nuevo Laredo, cartel battle going on there. So you have the illegal immigration issue. Then you compound it with the drug cartels.

Then this new phenomenon that we are seeing now. And this is just within the last six months or so. We've seen 5,200 unaccompanied young people -- we're talking 8 to 9-year-olds that are coming from Central and South America up through Mexico...

VAN SUSTEREN: So south of -- south of Mexico. Mexico's just the through...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... through it...

PERRY: And we don't know all the details yet about how Mexico's dealing with this. But they're coming to the Texas border and then crossing the river. And our health and human service agency has been taking them into the office of refugee resettlement, and the vast majority of these -- we had almost 1,300, 1,400 of them just in March that showed up with health problems, with chickenpox. We're -- you know, the health side of this is as disconcerting as anything.

But they're coming in, and almost 90 percent of them are being resettled here in the United States. And the President of United States needs to deal with this. He needs to be using his State Department, talking directly to the presidents of those countries where these kids are coming through, visiting with our friends in Mexico, to stop them.

I mean, these are kids that are getting on rail cars, riding the top of rail cars all the way up through Mexico. I mean, the danger that they're put in, the sexual assaults that are occurring -- I mean, all of this is a great consternation, I think, for any of us.

But when they come here and then they're dumped on our cities and our counties and our state is expected to pick up the costs, there's a point in time where you say, Quit giving these individuals incentives to come up and then be resettled in the United States. That's the real issue for me.

You got a president on one hand, you go, you know, look at China, where you have a dissident that we're kind of pushing back in the form of Mr. Chung, and then on the other side, we've kind of got open arms here with this issue because we're not sending a message, No, we're not going to allow you to come in, with good border security. And if you do happen to get back, we're not picking them back up and repatriating them, if you will, back into their country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems to me that there are a combination of issues. One is the financial burden on your state but there's also the humanitarian issues. They are living in -- I mean, they're living in, essentially, custody. They're living on cots some place in buildings, right? I mean, these children are coming in. I saw a picture in The Wall Street Journal today.

PERRY: And the health side of it, too, Greta. I mean, the -- these children have not been vaccinated for any of the diseases that are out there, and they're bringing those diseases in. In some cases, we have a known case of chickenpox. And then we had to quarantine that entire facility where these kids are.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's -- how many are -- how many -- in a facility? How many kids can you have in it? I mean, what -- what are these numbers?

PERRY: Well, here -- that's one of problems, is the federal government is giving us anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to make these facilities. And it's, like, you know, this is not our responsibility. And they're saying, Well, yes, you've got to help us deal with this.

When the issue goes back -- you know, we have -- we have -- we've fought this fight with Washington for a long time about their lack of securing the border. You hear them talk about, Well, immigration numbers are down. But we had 57 percent increase since 2008 of our drug seizures along that border.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what...

PERRY: We've seen what's going on.

VAN SUSTEREN: The numbers that -- I mean, the numbers that I've seen is that people -- more people are going south into Mexico than coming in this direction right now. We're seeing those numbers. But what -- what I -- what was sort of stunning to me is the number of children who are coming alone, and when I saw the picture of them living on these cots and we have -- they don't have parents here. I mean, we've got -- I mean, and now who -- who is to take custody of these children?

PERRY: Yes. It's a huge problem, and it's one that, you know, the federal government is dumping on our state. And 80 percent of them are coming into Texas. It's not as big a problem for Arizona, New Mexico, California as it is for Texas.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- do you expect to hear a reply from the -- President Obama because you've given a letter before. On the tarmac, you gave him a letter.

PERRY: We'll keep asking...

VAN SUSTEREN: You're quite a letter writer!

PERRY: Well, you know, my -- this is about standing up for the people of the state of Texas. They expect their governor to lead on these issues. And the bottom line is, is we got a federal government that is failing us when it comes to border security, failing us when it comes to dealing with this issue.

Let's send a clear message to those countries and their leadership that, You have to deal with this. We can't be responsible for being the repository for your citizens that you send up here or are, you know, allowing them to come.

We've got to have our government sending a clear message through the State Department and other avenues to stop this.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Big win for the Tea Party in Indiana tonight, Richard Mourdock beating Senator Lugar, who had been a U.S. senator -- held the seat for about 36 years. Is this a -- this a reflection on the Tea Party or is this isolated to one particular state, one particular race?

PERRY: Oh, I don't think so. I mean, you know, my race for governor back in 2010, you had a substantial United States senator who had been in Washington a long time, and that was a substantial victory against the Washington status quo. And I think that's what you see with Senator Lugar and -- and Mr. Mourdock, is that people are really fed up with Washington, D.C.

They're fed up with the spending. They're fed up with people telling them, say, Hey, you know, it's just the status quo. We don't know how to make it any better? Yes, we do. Stop the spending, get focused. Send people to Washington, D.C., that really are going to represent the people's will in this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me how presidential candidates run against either and say the worst things about each other, whether they're calling them socialist or liars or flip-floppers or they're just saying horrible things, and then now, all of a sudden, it's -- everyone's, like -- everyone's sort of, you know, patting everybody on back and it's all, like, we're all great friends. We happened?

PERRY: There's...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, the rest -- we saw all those ads.

PERRY: There's some theater that goes on. So I mean, I think all of us that have been in it for some time realize that there's some theater that goes on, but...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it raw? You feel raw a little bit? I mean, I -- I mean, I guess maybe...

PERRY: I've been...

VAN SUSTEREN: I would tend -- I guess I might hold a -- be more inclined to hold a grudge, I think, personally.

PERRY: I don't. You know, here's -- my focus is we've got to beat Barack Obama in November, and Mitt Romney is the individual who was still standing at the end of this process. I'm going to be for him. I'm going to be helping him because he will be multiple times better for this country than Barack Obama.


PERRY: Four more years of Barack Obama will be deadly...

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't that...

PERRY: ... for this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't that a weird campaign, the campaign statement from the Republican Party, is like, Our guy isn't as bad as yours? I mean, a little bit? I mean, it's, like...

PERRY: I don't think...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... he's so much better than...

PERRY: I don't think that was the case at all. I mean, you know, when you look at these candidates, you look where Barack Obama has taken America from the standpoint of our jobs numbers and spending and the debt. I mean, young people -- I mean, I don't know how anyone who's 25 to 40 years old could look at this presidential election and go anything other than, We're going to vote for the Republicans because there's some sanity there in spending and getting it under control.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, always nice to see you.

PERRY: You, too, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to be here in the great state of Texas.

PERRY: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you, sir.

PERRY: Come often.