Rep. Ted Poe on Attorney General's Admission That He Hasn't Read the Immigration Law

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 14, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Well, first, he says this.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that that law is an unfortunate one. I think that it is, I fear, subject to potential abuse.

That’s certainly one of the concerns that I have, that you will end up in a situation where people are racially-profiled.

I understand the frustration of people in Arizona, but the concern I have about the law that they have passed is that I think it has the possibility of leading to racial profiling. We think that the law, as enacted, could violate federal civil rights statutes.


CAVUTO: Then he admits this.


REP. TED POE R-TEXAS: Have you read the Arizona law?

HOLDER: I have not had a chance to. I have glanced at it. I have not read it with...

POE: It’s 10 pages. It’s a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long. I will give you my copy of it, if you would like to — to have a copy.


CAVUTO: By the way, the attorney general can also download the Arizona immigration law at, if he wants a copy.

Joining me now, Texas Congressman Ted Poe. He’s the Republican who made Holder admit that he has not read the law. Congressman, that was actually very riveting to watch, because it cuts to the core of this debate, just like our prior I had, a lovely fellow, but they’re – they’re saying things based on innuendo or suspicion, but not on fact, and — and developing whole protests and movements and potential legal action on a falsity.

POE: That’s correct. That’s correct.

And Attorney General Holder actually said that he had got his briefing earlier from media accounts. So, now we have the media briefing the attorney general on what the law is. Your previous caller couldn’t have — or guest couldn’t have been more inaccurate.

The bill, in four places — four — states racial profiling is prohibited under the legislation. You cannot just stop a person on the side of the road. The person has to be committing some unlawful act, like driving under the influence of alcohol.

Once the legitimate stop has been made, the officer, if he has reasonable suspicion, can inquire as to the status of the person that’s in the vehicle. It takes two steps.

CAVUTO: And what’s more — you astutely point that out, sir, but what is left out of this here is, there are steep fines and penalties to any officer who — who violates that. That’s also in there. But it’s also free for folks to read.

But why do you think — it’s sort of like, how long have you been beating your wife or stopped beating your wife? I mean, you have to justify and refute a negative that — that ain’t there. I mean, what happens now?

POE: Well, the law, in my opinion, is clearly constitutional. They — it was drafted that way, to be constitutional. It takes the federal law and implements it into Arizona law. In fact, it’s even more restrictive than the federal law.

And people ought to just read the legislation. They will see that it’s constitutional, but it doesn’t promote their political agenda if they found out it’s constitutional. So, they would rather be ignorant and not read it.

CAVUTO: You know, here’s the — here’s the thing. It’s always a sticky wicket for you, Congressman. And that is this, that, well, certainly, it’s not written there, but any sheriff or policeman or law enforcement personnel can, with a wink and nod, be targeting those, let’s say, of Hispanic origin or color to deliberately stop them, whether they’re speeding or not, to justify going after them. What do you say?

POE: Well, as you said, that officer, then, is subject to criminal penalties.

But you can say that about any law. You know, the law can be constitutional, but the application, if it’s used by racial profiling, the application is unconstitutional. And that can be applied to any law that we have already on the books. And, if that is done, the case is thrown out and the officer has to face criminal sanctions.

So, the law’s constitutional, and officers must, if they don’t — if they violate the — if they do racial profiling, they’re subject to penalty as well.

CAVUTO: You know, when I watched that exchange, Congressman, what I liked about is, you were kind of like Andy Griffith in those old...



CAVUTO: ...where you’re just asking a simple question, and then a bombshell: "No, well, you know, I didn’t get really around to reading it" and all that.

And I’m thinking, this isn’t a 2,000 or 3,000-page health care bill and law. This is a 12, 16-page, depending on what version you have — we have both versions on our website, by the way — and you’re the highest law enforcement official in the land, and you haven’t even looked at it.

You don’t need CliffsNotes versions of something that short.

POE: No. And he could — he should have read it, especially when he’s making the assertions he’s making about potential civil rights violation and all of these comments, as the attorney general, the leading law enforcement officer in the country.


POE: And he’s basing that on media reports, and not on the legislation.

It’s very unfortunate that he hasn’t read the bill. You know, he’s a smart person. I think, when he reads the bill, he’s going to realize, as a smart lawyer, the bill is constitutional.

CAVUTO: Well, remind me not to get on your bad side.


CAVUTO: But, Congressman, very good — very good having you.

And, by the way, folks, as promised, I do have the copy of the law there, and just to the point of what they need for documentation to prove you’re a citizen, any one — any one of the following: a valid license, a valid state I.D., a passport, a valid company I.D., proper green papers.

Any one of these would do. So, if you have a valid license, that’s it. Game over. You’re done. You’re free. You can go, any one, not — not what you are told you have to present, like, reams of documentation, any one of those, any one of them, multiple choice. Pick one, just one, not all of them, not all of the above, just one. My God. All right.

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