Gov. Pat McCrory on controversial North Carolina immigration law

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, 'SPECIAL REPORT' HOST: North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the President. He joins me from Charlotte. Governor, thanks for being here.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY, R, NORTH CAROLINA: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

BAIER: First, your reaction to the decision by the Fifth Circuit?

MCCRORY: I think it's very positive news. The question is what happens next. I think the court sent a very strong signal to the President that there is a separation of powers. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the law. The legislative branch is responsible for making the law. And that's a very fine distinction and I'm glad the courts ruled that way. It was a 2-1 vote. So most likely and hopefully sooner or later this will get to the Supreme Court.

BAIER: Well, the Department of Justice has said that they're appealing to the Supreme Court and they're going to be pushing for that.
Take a listen though to President Obama when he's talking about these executive actions -- these executive orders on the issue of immigration.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common-sense law. Until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president, the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me that will help make our immigration system more fair, and more just.


BAIER: Why is he wrong, Governor?

MCCRORY: Well, because the executive branch does not have the authority to select and choose which laws they're going to follow. I don't have the authority as governor of North Carolina. My responsibility and my obligation is to -- I'm sworn to follow and execute the laws of not only North Carolina, but the United States of America.

And not only am I supposed to do that. But law enforcement officers both at the federal, state and local levels are supposed to do that.
That's why I very proudly signed a bill which outlawed sanctuary cities in the state of North Carolina because what that did frankly was tell police officers who also take the same oath of office to uphold the laws of not only North Carolina, but the United States of America and have tied their hands from doing that.

So it's recognizing the Constitution at both the state and the federal level and we all need to be working together and enforcing all laws together. By the way, we help enforce federal bank robbery laws. We all work together as a team on federal drug trafficking laws because we have major cartel activity along I-95 and I-77 and I-85 -- major connections to the rest of the United States coming through North Carolina. And sadly some international cartels are a part of that human trafficking and drug trafficking.

BAIER: That's one of the things, Governor, you said in the signing of this bill in North Carolina despite some push-back obviously from the left.
You said that the illegal activity by illegal immigrants was increasing, not decreasing in your state.

MCCRORY: Well absolutely. I talked to sheriffs throughout North Carolina who say we've got major cartel activity in North Carolina and throughout the southeast. They're very smart business people and they're taking advantage of interstate travel and they're taking advantage of some of our very lax immigration rules.

And what we want to do is make sure when we, if someone is pulled over and there is suspicion of illegal activity in addition to illegal immigration, we find out who the person is, we're really speaking to because what we're finding out is many of these people have several different identities, with false identification. When they came to this country and they might even change their identification several other times, using false social security numbers and other types of identification. This isn't allowed in any other country that I know of but the United States of America.

BAIER: I mentioned some of the pushback that you're getting in North Carolina and obviously it's the same type of pushback on this issue we've seen broadly. This is what the ACLU in North Carolina said, "By making it harder for people to identify themselves to government officials, discouraging undocumented people from reporting crime and banning local governments from passing measures aimed at improving public safety this law makes all North Carolinians less safe. Immigrants play important roles in our communities and economy. Law likes this, encourage discrimination, send a message that North Carolina is unwelcoming and make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their job keeping all members of the community safe."

Governor -- your response to that.

MCCRORY: Well, first of all they use the word ‘undocumented.’ That means illegal, not here legally following the laws of the United States of America and some of those came into the country legally but they've overstayed their welcome according to our national laws and some came into our country illegally.

You know, using that logic, why even have customs at our airports?
Why don't we just let everyone in at all of our customs checkpoints and our ports of entry, at airports and shipping ports? I mean that makes no sense whatsoever. And it's plus in that type of logic is making police officer respond to crime as opposed to prevent crime from occurring. And I'd rather have preventive action than just reactive action after a crime occurs trying to get witnesses.

BAIER: Last thing Governor quickly, this issue obviously is playing out in the Republican primary race, do you have a candidate?

MCCRORY: I do not. I have a bias toward governors because they have the leadership experience of putting together a team and also dealing with crisis. But I think we've got a good selection and we've got to let the process work out.

I've yet to meet most of the candidates and North Carolina is going to be a major player in this race. We're the ninth most populated state in the United States of America -- most people don't realize that. But North Carolina is now number nine -- it's going to play a major role in the Presidential campaign.

BAIER: I used to live and work there, know it well. Governor McCrory in Charlotte tonight -- thank you for your time.

MCCRORY: Thank you very much -- Bret.

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