OTR Interviews

The Rev. Jesse Jackson: We cannot turn our backs on the children at the border, but we can't turn our backs on our children at home, either

The Rev. Jesse Jackson suggests the president has put the children of illegal immigrants before the troubled youth in our country


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama getting slammed by Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson accusing the president of putting illegal immigrant children before our own American children. Reverend Jackson saying the billions of dollars President Obama wants for the immigrants would be better spent combating violence in U.S. cities like Chicago. And he is not the only one.


BERNADETTE LANCELIN, HOUSTON RESIDENT: Now billions of dollars want to be borrowed from the White House to help feed and house them. What about the god-damn kids here in our neighborhood? In our country?


VAN SUSTEREN: And Reverend Jesse Jackson joins us.

Good evening, sir.

THE REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Good evening. Let me say quickly, I think getting support for those children in the humanitarian crisis is the moral and right thing to do. Resources are important. Even Glenn Beck is sending food and water and clothing, is the right thing.

But there is also a crisis in Chicago. It's not either, it's both. We cannot turn our back on children there nor -- a thousand have been shot this year. 200 killed. Several thousand last few years. To me, we need a comprehensive plan here at home as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Two questions on that. One is the obvious problem that is whatever amount of money is finite that we have to fix any of these problems. We always have to make very ugly decisions what do we do with a limited amount of resources we don't and have to borrow. That's the first question I have is how do you divvy that up. The second question has President Obama been to these areas in Chicago where these problems are happening so that he has got his attention on it?

JACKSON: He was an organizer. Let me say we have the crisis of guns and guns being trafficked in and drugs being trafficked in and police are overwhelmed. We need the FBI to stop the federal violation of the drugs and guns in. And then of course jobs out. Here we have a crisis, Greta, with even more children who schools closed. Get the drug stores closed. 72 grocery stores have been closed. Without a trauma unit. Several thousand have been killed the last few years. So we have a crisis at home. Maybe abandoned urban America. I don't think it's time to slam anybody. We cannot turn our back on the children of the border. Not the children of Loan Dale and Rosen and Austin as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So it it's a crisis on the border. Everyone is talking about it. No question it's making headlines. The crisis in urban America, most directly the crisis in Chicago, exactly what has this administration done to say that it acknowledge the crisis exists and the president has any attention on it, whether it be Chicago, Detroit, or any other city?

JACKSON: Well, can I tell you this. In Chicago, on the south and west side of Chicago, unemployment is three times the national average. We vacated 80,000 abandoned and vacant homes because the banks ripped us off. The bank got the bailout. People got left out.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's awful. You and I are on the same page. I know it's terrible in Chicago. I know it's terrible in Detroit. What I'm trying to figure out is that all this attention by the administration is currently on this crisis on our border, and I think it is a crisis, and one we should be paying attention to. Has the other crisis been neglected? The urban crisis been neglected by President Obama and specifically Chicago, his own city?

JACKSON: He left a lot up to the mayor but it's bigger than that. I think it's time for a White House conference on urban policy. HUD should be here because of the housing. When you close public housing and foreclose public housing, 20,000 homeless children in our school system in Chicago, the issue of health and human services, that many people killed, you have a level of trauma and fear here. So you convene the HUD and HHS and Labor and let Chicago be a model for reconstruction.


VAN SUSTEREN: And right now, we need such --


VAN SUSTEREN: You say right now we need this. This has been going on for years. Why hasn't the president done something about this? I mean, it makes me crazy how much waste there is in this town of Washington, while there is a real need in a lot of these cities, like Chicago. What exactly has this administration done to try to help your problem? It's not just show up yesterday or today, it's been going on.

JACKSON: One thing, it's a crisis. On the other hand, there are more people working there than working seven years ago, six years ago. There are more people that had health care that didn't have it then. It's not enough. This is not a crisis. This is a pattern. Last 10 years, about 4,000 have been killed. 1,000 injured by gun shots. We don't make guns in Chicago. Guns are made in Bearington. Guns in, drugs in, and jobs out. 90,000 losses to the (INAUDIBLE) zone. Because it's so much bigger than the mayor's domain, even what the governor can do. I contend we need some federal intervention. This is time for emergency investment and jobs and jobs now in this city for these children. We need more coaches and more teachers, not more police, necessarily.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are a lot nicer about it than I am. I'm outraged this administration has ignored the inner cities and we've seen a great city like Detroit -- I realize they have responsibility. Detroit sunk their own ship, and I realize Chicago, too, but there have been so many backs turned on some of these urban areas, and it's just a tragedy. But I'm taking the last word on that.

Reverend, always nice to see you, sir.

JACKSON: Thank you.