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Texas Governor-Elect Greg Abbott On The President’s Coming Executive Action On Immigration, And How He Plans To Counter It

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HH: We begin the show with the Governor-Elect of the great state of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott. General Abbott, welcome back, congratulations on your big win.

GA: Thank you, sir. It’s great to be back with you again.

HH: Well, I want to begin with a controversial thing. Would you agree that Ohio State should be ranked ahead of TCU and Baylor in the committee’s rankings tomorrow night?

GA: Now you’ve got to know, we’ve been down this road before, I’m going to stick with my Texas teams. Ohio State is good, and I’ll tell you one reason why Ohio State is good, and that’s because their quarterback came from a school in Texas. But putting that aside, you know I’ve got to favor my Horned Frogs and my Baylor Bears.

HH: Can you at least guarantee me that the Horned Frogs will go down to your Longhorns, because you are a UT man, are you not?

GA: Well, I did go to the University of Texas, and had you asked me that question three weeks ago, I would have said there’s no chance for University of Texas. They’ve had a hard season where they’ve lost a whole lot of players. But the way they’ve played the last few games, I’ve got to tell you, they’re coming on. And I think that TCU-Texas game is going to be very close.

HH: I have only one more related question. This really goes to judicial decorum. Justice Willett is AG Abbott-trained, and yet he tweets a lot of trash when it comes to his Baylor Bears. Is that appropriate for a sitting justice of the Texas Supreme Court?

GA: The deal is there is no overruling a Supreme Court justice. That’s as high as you can get, so they can say whatever they want.

HH: Okay, let’s get to the serious stuff. The immigration, you’ve been on Fox, and here you are, you’ve just won this enormous landslide. You’re supposed to be in charge of your state, and the President comes along and he says he is in effect going to legalize millions of people in Texas who don’t have a right to be there, Governor-Elect Abbott. What’s your reaction?

GA: Well, my first reaction is one of being offended as a citizen of this nation. The president of the United States is supposed to set the tone by himself following the law. I believe that if he does this, he is not following the law. Instead, he is abdicating his responsibilities, and he is taking power that belongs in Congress. Congress is vested by the Constitution with the power to establish our immigration laws, not the president. And so my first reaction is one of being offended by the President even thinking about going down that pathway, but my second reaction is as the governor for the great state of Texas, it’s my responsibility to ensure that we protect the safety and well-being of our fellow Texans. We cannot have another situation like what we had last summer with a thousand people coming across the border a day. And they did that because President Obama provided that deferred action, which he’s going to be doing again. And so I have a border security plan that needs to be passed. If we pass my border security plan, we will not be having people come across the border like they did last year.

HH: Now Governor-Elect Abbott, I’m not familiar with the laws in Texas. But in California, we have wage and hours laws. They’re frequently the source of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs lawyers against my clients, so I’m very familiar with them. And I’m quite certain Texas has a bunch of laws that go to employment. The President issuing, you know, a piece of paper that’s not a green card, not a federal right to stay, I’m not sure how those people are going to be in situ versus Texas laws on employment and working conditions.

GA: Well, you’re mentioning something there’s been a lot of stories about over the past 24 or 48 hours, and that is how confusing this is going to be for everyone. And we’re going to have to wait and see exactly what comes out. But it almost is going to provide some writ of freedom without providing any kind of rights or certainty about what the people covered by the President’s program will be allowed to do. So it’s confusing, but I’ve got to tell you, what you just talked about is just one of the many reasons why I still in my capacity as Attorney General of Texas am considering legal action against the President for 1) violating the laws of the Constitution, but for another, putting the state’s budget at risk by undertaking this executive fiat.

HH: Now I’m quite certain that there are some Texas programs which are eligible for green card recipients. I don’t know, for example, of a green card recipient receives in-state tuition in Texas. Do you happen to know if he or she does, Governor-Elect Abbott?

GA: Well, there are other criteria that are required for the in-state tuition to kick in, that really would be unrelated to what the President would do.

HH: But there’ve got to be some programs where green card holders get benefits from the state of Texas that these piece of paper holders won’t get, I think.

GA: Well, and the answer is probably. And again, we’ll have to wait and see precisely what he says, and what the effect of it will be.

HH: Now coming up next hour, I’m going to talk with Senator Lindsey Graham about immigration reform among other things. And I’ll be pushing my fence. I like the double-sided, tall, long fence. Do you think it needs to be built in large numbers of miles in Texas, Governor-Elect Abbott?

GA: I’ve got to tell you what we have found, and I have seen this first-hand. I’ve been involved in what are called border surge operations, where we take the Texas law enforcement officials, they’re called the Department of Public Safety, and we put more boots on the ground, we use airplanes in the air and boats on the water, and we have an extremely effective border security plan. What I want to do as governor is expand that operation and make it permanent. I want to add 500 DPS officers, more of what are called Texas Rangers, more funding for local law enforcement, more airplanes. Where I’ve been in the air at night at 8,000 feet, and I can tell you precisely on the ground where someone is who came across the border. And then we add on top of that we have advanced technology as well as towers, and then some tougher laws. And all of that combined will provide the level of border security that we need to ensure that we stop illegal cross-border traffic.

HH: But what about the fence? The stationary barrier has, at least in my audience, an enormous attraction. And my audience is a pro-regularization audience. We want most people to stay. But we think a stationary fence. There’s a reason the White House, as Charles Krauthammer said on this show, has a fence around it. Do you believe in them?

GA: I’m laughing because how effective has that fence been at the White House?

HH: Almost all, it’s like 99%. Once in a while, someone gets over it. I’m not saying it’s 100%, but it’s 99%.

GA: Right, and listen, the fencing that we have seen, the way that it was constructed in Texas, and I think in other parts of the border area like in New Mexico and Arizona and California, but especially the way we saw it constructed in Texas, it hasn’t really been very much of a deterrent. Now in talking to some of the border patrol agents, it does serve somewhat as a funnel in certain areas. But frankly, there are parts of it where the fence is no fence. You can just literally walk across, or walk through it.

HH: Oh, I agree. That doesn’t, it’s got to be tall and long and double-sided. Yeah, it’s got to be big.

GA: Yeah, and so it’s ineffective. But I do have to tell you that these new tools in technologies that we have are proving to be extremely effective. And if we have the boots on the ground, we’re going to be able to keep the state secure, and be able to solve the problem that’s going to be created by the President.

HH: Let me turn to, we’ll have to argue that one out, but I want to talk about the nature of executive authority. You’re going to be a governor. If you acted the way President Obama proposes to act vis-à-vis immigration, say, vis-à-vis the Texas Endangered Species Act, or Texas law with regards to DUI, or Texas law with regards to anything, you wouldn’t really be acting as a governor in a limited power state. You’d be acting as an authoritarian. I mean, don’t you as a chief executive find what the President is proposing to do extremely troubling?

GA: It is troubling, it’s offensive, and it’s dangerous for this country. This country was established with the intent of having limited government authority, and to have that limited government authority checked and balanced by other branches of government. In this situation, we have a chief executive acting by executive fiat, creating on his own legislation, making up the rules, and then executing the rules. That is not the way government was intended to work.

HH: Last question, Governor Abbott, your counterpart, Jay Nixon in Missouri, has activated the National Guard tonight. It’s in anticipation of possible violence. Do you think that’s a smart thing? Or should you wait for emergencies to arise before activating National Guard units?

GA: Well, you know, obviously I don’t know the situation on the ground in Missouri, but just putting my executive cap on as governor, I would try to act in anticipation of any challenges. As an example, I’m going to be acting in anticipation of challenges of people coming across the border, and mobilizing forces to be able to deal with that. Similarly, we act in anticipation of hurricanes coming into Texas, and being prepared in advance of that to respond to it. So I think in general, it is typically a good idea to be prepared in advance. And all that said, I’m simply not familiar with precisely what is happening or what may happen in Missouri.

HH: Well, I hope that you’ll be back often, Governor, and that you’ll be down cheering the Longhorns on against the Horned Frogs. In that, we can agree. Governor-Elect Greg Abbott of the great state of Texas, have a great Thanksgiving.

End of interview.

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