Ex-DHS chief says it's 'tragic' immigration will be reduced to 2020 talking point

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in an interview that aired Friday on Hill.TV's "Rising" that it is "tragic" that the immigration situation at the southern border will be used as a political talking point during the 2020 election. 

"This is going to be a hot topic," Ridge, who served under former President George W. Bush, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton. 

"That's the sad, tragic narrative. This is a problem that must be solved. It's complex, there's a lot of dimensions to it, but people have been playing politics, both sides of the aisle, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue for the past 10 or 15 years," he continued. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE launched his first presidential campaign in 2015 on the premise of getting tough on immigration and building a fortified wall along the border with Mexico. 

Ridge said he agreed with Trump that a physical wall is needed, but said the structure won't solve the problem on its own.

"I think the president is right. You do need a physical wall. There are other areas where you use sensors and a digital wall," Ridge said. 

"But you have to say to yourself, we don't have a 21st century immigration policy. We don't know how to deal with asylum. We don't have a good guest worker program, and we're not working in the kind of cohesive, collaborative way with Mexico and some of those Central American communities to help build their economy and keep those folks back there," he continued. "So it's more than a wall, but everybody seems to want to play games with that, and for another 15 years, we'll continue to talk about it, there will be enormous pressure and strain, particularly on those border states." 

— Julia Manchester