Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was on a talk show this morning and he said that members of Congress should stop trying to get “political wins” from the issue of immigration. Instead, Ridge said, he thinks it is time for both parties to come together and agree on a bipartisan approach to solve America’s immigration problems.
Ridges spoke this morning on AM 970 “The Answer” with John Catsimatidis in New York City. He was at one time the homeland security chief in the George W. Bush administration. Before that he was a popular Republican governor of Pennsylvania.
In his interview, Ridge said that “political divisiveness” is the cause of the government’s failure to reach an agreement on such hot button issues as border security and reform of immigration policies.
“We need to be a lot more aggressive and a lot more thoughtful as we deal with immigration going forward. And until we put this political divisiveness beside us, we’re just going to keep moving the ball up and down the field and nobody is going to score,” Ridge said. Then he added:
“I wish my friends on the hill, both Republicans and Democrats, would start focusing on the problem rather than try to get political wins out of the deal.”
In the interview Ridge also called for increasing border security. However, he said, he believes that there should also be a path to “legitimize” undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States.
“We want a secure border. We deserve it. Our country has been very very porous. But it’s so much more than a wall at the border.”
“We also have to think about the people that … haven’t broken the law, once they broke the law crossing the borders.”
“How can we legitimize their presence? I’m not saying make them a citizen. But say, ‘All right, you’re here illegally, but we’re going to protect you. Pay your taxes. Continue to do the work that you’re doing. Raise your family.”
“Then let’s focus on the bad guys.”
Ridge’s comments are very timely in that there are deep divisions in Washington on the issues of border security and immigration reform. These divisions are not just between the two parties, but also within the parties themselves.
Congress is facing an imminent deadline to resolve an impasse on the border wall funding demands of Donald Trump. The self-imposed deadline is February 15, and after that time the federal government may be shut down again unless the impasse is resolved. This will require that both houses of Congress pass another spending bill that the president will agree to sign.
Trump has been threatening to declare a national emergency over illegal border crossings in an attempt to improperly take money from other government departments to start building his unpopular border wall.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats in Congress have said they are not willing to give Trump any money for his wall.
Tom Ridge is right in that border security and immigration reform are political footballs that get kicked around as each party tries to gain political points. Reaching a consensus in Washington is the goal, but more and more it seems like an impossible dream.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.