Immigration Debate Divides Arizona

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 6, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Last night, you met a former Arizona state senator who wants you to boycott his own state. That is Arizona. We didn't have enough time, so tonight he's back. Our questions: Does he agree illegal immigration is a problem in Arizona? And what does he think should be done.

Former Arizona senate majority leader Alfredo Gutierrez joins us live. Welcome back, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK, sir, now you have you said that you want people to boycott your state in light of this new immigration law. But I have a couple quick questions. Number one is, is illegal immigration a problem in Arizona or not?

GUTIERREZ: It is. It is. It is a major problem in Arizona.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long has it been a problem? Has it been a problem since you were a member of -- since you were holding office?

GUTIERREZ: It -- it -- it certainly was. I was involved in the Reagan discussions. I've testified, actually, on the Reagan bill. So it's been that long since immigration, and undocumented immigration, unauthorized immigration has been an issue in this country. So yes, it has. However, in the last few years, perhaps, less than a decade, reached pretty substantial proportions.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, I understand you don't like the statute. Let's forget about the statute for a second. What do you suggest as a way to address the illegal immigration problem in your state?

GUTIERREZ: I think it has to be solved in a pretty comprehensive way. This enforcement at the border and only enforcement at the border is going to be insufficient. We have to talk about employer sanctions in a very sear you way.

We have to talk about securing the borders certainly, but we also have to talk about what we are going to do with the 12 million people who are here and their children and their wives and their husbands.

As a consequence you have to have some mechanism, some means of making people safe in this country, of allowing them to come out of the shadows, of being age to discern between those who are here to work and criminals and removing the criminals.

I think you need a comprehensive system. To simply focus on attrition trying to make life so miserable in Arizona or any other state is pretty silly.

VAN SUSTEREN: We talked about a comprehensive solution. Here's the problem, for instance, securing the border or employer sanctions, that's been talked about a lot. Everyone keeps saying it, we keep hearing members of Congress and presidents saying let's secure the borders.

Nobody does it. Nobody has done it. Does that not at least a little bit get you upset that your state gets stuck holding the back essentially? There's a lot of talk, there just hasn't been action for decades.

GUTIERREZ: I'm as outraged as anyone. I edit a daily website that focuses and is angry at the fact that the Bush administration and the Obama administration taken together have done nothing but make things worse.

I do indeed view that the circumstance in Arizona is a direct result you have an action by both the Bush administration and the Obama administration. And I think it is time that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress resolve this issue.

Otherwise, the boycott going on here one that is going to become a national phenomena. Two, the kinds of abuses are going to become nationwide. It ought to be stopped here by serious action by Congress. In the meantime our efforts are focused in Arizona and are to repeal this law.

VAN SUSTEREN: We only have 20 seconds left. Putting aside the racial profiling, which I understand is an issue that people are arguing about, how do you get the attention of President Obama on this?

GUTIERREZ: If I knew that I suspect I would be talking to him directly. I think we have to maintain the pressure in Arizona. Hopefully that will make up some consciousness in him. He is, after all, the president of change and hope. And there's dire hopelessness in this state. Perhaps we can reach him.

VAN SUSTEREN: State Senator, thank you for coming back again tonight. Thank you, sir.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you ma'am.

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