Okla. attorney general to sue admin for immigration plan

Scott Pruitt speaks out


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is not smiling. In fact, he is suing.

Over what, General? What specifically?

SCOTT PRUITT, R - OK, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, good afternoon, Neil.

I think what we are -- are focused upon is this executive amnesty, the executive branch doing that which only the legislative branch can do. The president has said, pass a bill. But the legislative prerogative is to pass a bill or not pass a bill. And because Congress has not acted, it doesn`t give him license to fill in the void.

And so, with this executive action, it has put the states in a very adversarial position. We have triggered state benefits now because these folks are lawfully present in the state of Oklahoma. And so state Medicaid, state welfare benefits are going to be paid . This is injuring the state and injuring states all over the country because of the unlawful action of the president.

CAVUTO: So, that`s really the -- the backbone of this suit, right, in other words, that it`s costing your state, as it is a lot of cities and municipalities directly affected by this freeze in deportations for some five million illegals. It`s a big, costly issue, not a political one, just a costly one.

PRUITT: That`s right exactly right.

And these -- these individuals are subject to deportation today. And the president has suspended their deportation. They`re here unlawfully. He has taken action to replace what Congress would do otherwise. And so he has pointed to prosecutorial discretion, Neil. As attorney general, I utilized prosecutorial discretion every day, and that`s only done on a case-by-case basis.

When you`re talking about four million-plus individuals, it`s impossible for the federal government to be able to engage in a case-by-case review of those four million individuals in the way that would characterize prosecutorial discretion.

The president is taking too much license here. He`s acting only because in his estimation Congress has not, and that doesn`t give him that authority, and so he has acted in an unlawful way.

CAVUTO: All right.

Now, you`re a man of the law. And you`re not trying to play politics with this. But are worried that you`re being sort of sucker-punched by the administration and by Democrats in general, who love this talk of being sued and who love this talk of being dragged to court and love this talk -- and it`s extreme -- of even threatening to impeach the president?

That`s not you, Attorney General, but there are many Republicans who are advocating that. And that it gets people`s attention off the issue at hand, which is a good legal one in your case, and then it makes it look like Republicans are anti-Latino, obstructionists. You've heard it all.

PRUITT: Well, we should care, Neil, that the process does matter.

There are -- there are ideas that the president has put forth in his executive action that may be good ideas. There may be some ideas that are not so good. But that`s why the process matters. And we have something called rule of law in this country. The president himself, when he was running for president, recognized that he was constrained by the law and couldn`t just take executive action like he described last week.


CAVUTO: But what do you do -- what do you make of his argument, sir, that I tried work with Republicans for six years now to come up with a coherent immigration policy, they dropped the ball? Republicans counter they had plenty of options out there and plenty of options they were pursuing with the White House, including tougher border enforcement, and that`s where the line was drawn and the division started.

But having said that, he is going to come back at you and say, I would have been happy if they had given me a bill. I would have been happy to pursue that. They never did. So there I stand on my sound legal ground. You say what?

PRUITT: Well, when -- if he -- if he believes so strongly that he had this legal authority to act, and it`s such a compelling issue, my question would be, why did he wait until after the election to do so? Why didn`t he act six months ago? Why didn`t he act two years ago?

The fact of the matter is, he acted post an election and before the next Congress comes in. I think, if anything, that`s brazenly political. At the end of the day, we have something that constrains even the president. It`s called the Constitution. And the U.S. Congress is the body that is responsible for passing laws.

It takes two branches to pass a law, not just one, and the president can`t act just because the Congress has failed to.

CAVUTO: All right.

Attorney General, we will watch very, very closely. Thank you, sir, very much.

PRUITT: Thank you. Thank you, Neil.

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