Tired of Federal Inaction on Securing the Border

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 27, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Arizona says, Time's up! Arizona is waiting no longer for empty federal promises about securing our borders.


BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more, by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be a coordinated effort to safeguard our transportation systems and to secure the border so that we're better able to protect our citizens and welcome our friends.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - ARIZ., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We said we'd enforce the borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our failures in reining in corruption and out-of-control spending. So we tried and we failed. And I appreciate the president's efforts. He comes from a border state, too. And what we've learned is that the American people want the borders enforced.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system, to secure our borders and enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's just a sample of the federal promises. And apparently, Arizona got tired of waiting for federal action. And now the state's new immigration law is causing a firestorm. Sheriff Paul Babeu (INAUDIBLE) Pinal County, Arizona, and supports the new law. Why? Sheriff Babeu joins us live. Good evening, sir. And why do you...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... support this new state law?

BABEU: Well, crime literally is off the charts here in Arizona, that we have some of the highest crime statistics in America, and where officers being assaulted, officer-involved shootings, carjackings, home invasions. Literally in the absence of federal action, our state now taking action. And it's a welcomed action and step by us who serve in law enforcement.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we could go back well beyond former president Clinton, when he was in office, and find federal leaders who said we've got to secure our borders. I take it you -- do you not think our federal government is going to secure the borders? Have you given up or -- or not?

BABEU: Not at all. Not at all. What we've had is a lack of uniformity here even locally. We've had an evolution, if you will, in local leaders and even in law enforcement, where we have always bought into this idea that, Hey, this is a federal problem. And we can no longer afford to ignore that. Crime in my county, where we have a third of our population is Hispanic, Latino, I have 200 of my staff that are, and we're going to apply this new law without profiling anyone. Just last month, Greta, we had...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...


VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. I'm sorry, sir. I interrupted you.

BABEU: Last month, we had 64 pursuits just in one of our patrol regions, and that's where a vehicle fails to yield for our lights going on and sirens blaring and they take off and speed up in high-speed pursuits, running red lights, intentionally causing traffic wrecks. And this is to not just avoid the police, but their tactics have changed. They're always armed. And this has resulted in numerous people being killed in traffic wrecks in my county.

And who are these people that are fleeing from law enforcement? These are smugglers, not only of drugs but of humans. And they're trying to get to metro Phoenix. And so right now, it's reached an epidemic proportion here in Arizona, and this is where you have sheriffs like myself, police chiefs that are calling for what Senator McCain and Kyl have asked is 3,000 soldiers to the border.

And until we literally stop the unseemingly flow of illegals coming in, it's like a hamster wheel. We're just going to keep chasing our tail here. And we can't -- we would never ask for actual troops to the border if we could handle this on our own, and we can't.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it you would prefer, in a best case scenario, that your -- you didn't even have to handle this, that the federal government would step in and actually would handle it, would actually secure the borders. Would that be something you would prefer to having your department handle this?

BABEU: That's part of it. But I can tell you that every component -- and that's the beauty of the McCain plan, it brings together federal agents, it brings together state and county and local law enforcement all together, troops at the border, continue building the fence that President Obama had suspended, and all of this working in partnership because over half of the illegals coming into America -- this is why you're seeing us take action. They come into Arizona. And enough is enough.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said that you wouldn't do profiling. How can you avoid doing profiling, or how do you know that you won't do profiling?

BABEU: Well, I'll give you an example. Just last night, we had Deputies Taber (ph) and Miller (ph) go on a traffic stop. They stopped somebody not because of the color of their skin but because they were breaking a traffic law. They were speeding. So the deputy turned around, pulled the traffic stop. The driver pulled into a residential driveway.

The operator of the vehicle immediately got out, which is an alert to an officer. The deputy approached him and said, Hey, what's going on? The suspect said, Hey, there's nobody in the car, but then took off on foot. The deputy stayed with the vehicle, had seen the trunk actually pop open. And two deputies approached the vehicle, and surprise, in a Ford Taurus, there were nine other people, including two in the trunk. Now, that's what we call reasonable suspicion or a clue in law enforcement.

So we would take any lawful action we normally do. Here in America, we trust our police officers with the authority that -- say you committed a crime, Greta, or any citizen, that we have this awesome authority to suspend somebody's constitutional rights and freedoms. We also have the lawful authority to literally use lethal force and take somebody's life, and yet here we're questioning the fact that we can't build the components that are necessary to get to reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

And I would submit to you and all of our citizens that we do this on every call we go on, whether we determine if there's criminal action and we need to make an arrest or if it's a civil matter or there's many times there's no lawful action that we take.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sheriff, thank you, sir. And good luck, sir.

BABEU: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, first, it was Arizona, and now Utah. Utah Republican State Representative Stephen Sandstrom has an illegal immigration bill of his own. He joins us live. Good evening, sir. And why are you introducing -- I -- I guess you're in the draft stage, but why you are you drafting legislation that is similar to that of Arizona?

UTAH STATE REP. STEPHEN SANDSTROM, R - UTAH: Well, good evening, Greta. It's good to be on the show. Right now, it's actually imperative that the state of Utah act aggressively with the same type of legislation that we have in Arizona because in the past, when Arizona has tightened the noose around illegal immigration, so to speak, we've seen an influx of illegal aliens leaving the state of Arizona and coming directly to Utah because Utah is seen as a magnet state. We seen as -- we're seeing as being light on illegal immigration here.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the reception in Utah? I mean, are people actually -- I mean, I can understand why the border states -- they're -- you know, they've been dealing with the issues of crime and drugs for quite some time. But Utah is a little bit distant from the border. Are you actually feeling some of the illegal immigration in your state?

SANDSTROM: We certainly are, Greta. Here in the state of Utah, we border to the south with Arizona, and we are seeing the same type of criminal activity here. For instance, over 50,000 of the children in the state of Utah have had their identities stolen by illegal aliens for job- related felonies. We've also seen a huge increase in criminal activity, with gang-related violence, drug-related violence all attributed to illegal immigration here in our state.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you worry because, you know, this -- I mean, our country -- you know, we want to, you know, protect our citizens. We want to ferret out crime. We want to prosecute crime. And we also want to make sure that, you know, we adhere to our Constitution. Do you worry that there will be infringement of constitutional rights or there'll be civil rights violations? Do you worry that with the statute you are drafting?

SANDSTROM: You know, I'm not worried about that happening because, as the good sheriff just indicated, when you're stopped for a traffic stop, there has to be probable cause to pursue any type of arrest. And if somebody's stopped here in the state of Utah and they do not have a driver's license, they do not have a, say, resident alien card and they do not speak English, that may establish probable cause.

The last thing I would want to see happen in the state of Utah is have racial profiling take place specifically where people are looked at for the color of their skin. That's just not the case.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it if someone's standing on the street corner and doing absolutely nothing sinister, nothing wrong, nothing suspicious, that the statute you would draft would forbid a police officer simply to step up and say, you know, Show me you're a citizen. Is that a fair description...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... of what you intend to do with your statute?

SANDSTROM: It certainly is, Greta. That would be the case. We do not want people to live in fear, people to feel like just because of the color of their skin, or they might have an accent, they may be targeted. The idea is to give law enforcement another tool, so if they have that probable cause, they may ask for immigration status because we are getting overrun here in the state of Utah, just like we...

VAN SUSTEREN: But let me...

SANDSTROM: ... just like the state of Arizona.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you a question, though. It just occurred to me. If you go up to someone and the person -- you question the person and you're satisfied the person hasn't committed a crime, you let the person go, or do you ask the added question, What's your citizenship?

SANDSTROM: I think, at that point, you let the person go. You need to be engaged in some type of activity that would raise the level of suspicion by that police officer to further ask the question. And simply being...

VAN SUSTEREN: But if the person has done something -- if the person has done something then, enough to make arrest, you'd make an arrest regardless if the person's a citizen or not a citizen at that point, right?

SANDSTROM: Oh, sure you would. Yes. Of course.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I guess that I'm having -- I mean -- I mean, you can make an arrest without -- I mean -- I mean, someone -- someone could be arrested without even asking the citizenship question.

SANDSTROM: Yes. You could be arrested without the citizenship question. Of course.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, I mean, also a green card, as well. So I guess I'm having a hard time understanding, now that I think this through a little bit. If someone -- if someone is doing something suspicious, you go up and you find out the person is free and clear of something, you don't make an arrest at that point. But do you ask that question, Are you a citizen, and you say no?

SANDSTROM: Yes, well, if they're not a citizen, then at that point -- and they're not here legally, I think that's the key, then we would definitely say that they could be arrested at that point, even if it was established that you were not committing another crime, if you were questioned for some reason other than just because you happen to, you know, be Hispanic, let's say.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let me add that I say citizen, I also mean -- I mean, if you have a green card, you have a right to be here, as well as besides being a citizen.


VAN SUSTEREN: So that I'm -- you know, make sure that I'm clear. State Representative, thank you, sir.

SANDSTROM: Oh, thank you, Greta.

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