OTR Interviews

Texas Attorney General: We have to send National Guard to the border because President Obama, the feds 'turned their backs' on us

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on why he and Gov. Rick Perry decided to send the state National Guard to the border


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Developing now, the state of Texas immediately sending up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help secure the border. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you sending, you and the governor, sending 1,000 troops to the border?

ABBOTT: Greta, because it's necessary. Because the state of Texas is doing what the federal government has failed to do. And that is to secure our border. You know, you have seen this yourself, a year or two ago. And it's just grown larger ever since then. In addition to the tens of thousands of children and women who are coming across the border, Greta, we are seeing very dangerous cartel members, MS-13 gang members. Some of the worst of the worse. We have had women and children in the state of Texas who have been sexually assaulted by the people who have come across the border. We have had 3,000 murders. It's a responsibility of a government to keep their people safe. The federal government has the responsibility of securing our border. They are not doing it, so the state of Texas will do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here is what I don't quite understand is that unless you sort of stand arm to arm across the border, people will get into the United States. In fact, the children are actually trying to get caught coming into the United States. So, if you grab them, you are not doing anything that they don't already seek to have done. Are you seeking to stop the children from coming in? If so, it's like once they step on the soil, they are in.

ABBOTT: Greta, a couple of things in response to that question. One is the National Guard are serving as a force multiplier, and we have seen time and again, in fact, even over the past month that when we have more boots on the ground on the border, it reduces the cross border traffic.

VAN SUSTEREN: Adults or children? Let me separate for a second. Adults or children?


VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Both adults, both children, and most importantly, the cartels, the gangs, the criminals are all -- the amount of cross border traffic is decreasing in all of those categories because we have had more boots on the ground. However, Greta, we don't have enough. Here is one thing that's happened and that is we focused on the Rio Grande Valley sector. Some of the cross border cartel based activity has moved up the border. You can show a map at the state of Texas and look at the Laredo area where some of that cross border cartel criminal-related traffic has moved to.

So, we need to expand the territory that we cover, we need to put more boots on the ground. But, Greta, this is the most important thing that I can convey. That is the purpose of adding more resources on the ground is not to address the women and children, it's to address this growing reality that a lot of people coming across the border are here for criminal purposes. They are killing, they are raping, and they are robbing. They are doing all kinds of harsh criminal activity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the guard going to make arrests or detention its or is it simply sort of a show of force?

ABBOTT: They are going to do multiple things, Greta. We are working through the legalities of.


VAN SUSTEREN: Is arrest and detention one of things they can do, or is it a show of force?

ABBOTT: They can definitely detain and we are working on the legalities of the extent to which they can arrest. Right now, you should consider them to be a force multiplier, assisting with the DPS. Let me give you an easy example that is the way the Department of Public Safety works is we work in three ways in the air, on the -- high in the air, 8,000 feet in the air, helicopters in the air, then boots on the ground. The National Guard can be in the helicopters in the air or high in the air, monitoring the traffic on the ground, directing the department of public safety precisely where to go to make the arrest.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, do you feel as though Governor Perry has said that Texas has just gotten lip service from the federal government? I assume meaning the president since he directs it. Do you feel that the state of Texas has just gotten lip service and basically abandoned its duties to Texas?

ABBOTT: I think the federal government has turned its back on the state of Texas. More importantly, Greta, this is not a Texas issue. This is a United States of America issue. Look at all different states in the country that are reacting to this situation. The president has turned his back. Remember this Greta, it was two weeks ago the president was in Austin, Texas, just a few hundred miles away from the border. And he had his hand out taking money from people here for political purposes. And he could not trouble himself to go down to the border and see firsthand for himself the catastrophe that he was partly responsible for creating, let alone providing the money to help us deal with that situation. But, again, it's more than just Texas. It's states across the country that are having to deal with a problem that was partly caused by the president's policies himself.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Attorney General, thank you, sir.

ABBOTT: Thank you, Greta.