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Kelly File

Texas governor-elect Greg Abbott details illegal immigration crisis

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," November 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, GUEST HOST: Joining us now Texas governor-elect Greg Abbott who is also the former attorney general of Texas and a man who is well-versed in this issue.

Congratulations on your election, sir and welcome. Good to have you with us tonight.  

GREG ABBOTT, R-GOVERNOR-ELECT OF TEXAS: Thank you so much, Martha. My pleasure, thanks.

MACCALLUM: Thank you so much for being here. This is going to be on your plate in a very big way as you take office as governor of Texas. You saw the way Governor Perry dealt with it. Do you expect that you're going to see a new surge of illegals trying to cross that border as the president considers executive action?

ABBOTT: Martha, for one we are concerned that there will be a new surge in border activity in part because of the potential action the president may take.

But Martha, remember this, and that is the border surge that all the national cameras showed earlier this year, that is nothing that is new in the state of Texas. We've had people crossing the border for years. And we've been involved in these sporadic surge operations by the Texas Department of Public Safety to staunch the flow of cross-border activity, necessitating that Texas open up its checkbook and pay for this.

What we are expecting the federal government to do is to, for one, the president not to open the flood gates of the border. But two, for the federal government to pay for the cost that Texas has incurred.

MACCALLUM: You know, Governor Perry had talked about not having a heart if you don't understand the plight of families that are separated across this border and people who've been here for a very long time, children who were brought across the border under the age of 16. And he has had some sympathy for some of these situations. Do you share those sympathies?

ABBOTT: Well, Martha, we share the sympathies. And Martha, my family is multicultural. My wife is Hispanic. And as part of one of the things that was shown in this election, even though my wife is going to be the first Hispanic first lady in the history of the state of Texas, we found the Hispanic community in Texas agrees with the Republican position of securing the border because I got more than 50 percent of male Hispanic vote, about 44 percent of the overall Hispanic vote.

This is an issue that really resonates across the state of Texas. We've embrace and support legal immigration in this country. But everyone wants to ensure that the broken immigration system caused by Washington, D.C. gets fixed.  

MACCALLUM: All right. So there's a lot of talk on compromise. The president has said that he will take executive action before the end of the year, most likely. He said quite clearly that that he will do whatever is within his legal power to see this issue through because he feels that Congress has dropped the ball. What are you expecting from the White House?

ABBOTT: Well, Martha, most importantly we're expecting the White House not to cross the line. There was a mandate that occurred on election night this year. It was a mandate that the American people are sick and tired of the president using executive orders to dictate a pathway inconsistent with America's values. And if the President crosses the line, he's going to see an overwhelming rejection of what he's trying to do. And so he better not overstep his authority. If he does, for one, of course we'll be involved with another lawsuit against him. But for another, you can expect quite a strong pushback. The right way to go about this --

MACCALLUM: Go ahead. What form would that take? I mean, you know, it does look like the president will do some form of amnesty for some families that have family members who are across the border already. What will you do in response?

ABBOTT: Well, for one, we will add yet another lawsuit against the Obama administration. Two, I fully expect both the House and Senate to push back strongly once the new Senate is sworn-in. And they will correct whatever overreach the president has done. But three, this is going to lead to a tremendous backlash across all Americans about the dictatorial way the President is going about trying to enact policy in the United States of America.  

MACCALLUM: I guess what I'm getting at here, is there a middle ground for you? Is there a compromise with the President on this issue for you and what does it look like?

ABBOTT: The answer is absolutely yes. What Texans believe in and what I think America's believes in is there is a step by step process that we can achieve immigration reform. The first step is to secure the border. As long as we have an open border, as long as the immigration laws are not enforced, as long as the president is inviting people to come here illegally, we will never see a secure border. So we must start with securing the border.  

MACCALLUM: All right. Close the border first and negotiate from there.

Greg Abbott, thank you very much. Good to have you with us today.

ABBOTT: Thank you so much.  

MACCALLUM: Many thanks.

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