Former Homeland Security secretary urges lawmakers to stop trying for 'political wins' on immigration

Former Homeland Security secretary urges lawmakers to stop trying for 'political wins' on immigration
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Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to stop chasing "political wins" and instead reach a bipartisan consensus on immigration.

In an interview with AM 970 "The Answer" with John Catsimatidis in New York City, the former Bush administration Homeland Security chief blamed "political divisiveness" for Washington's inability to reach an agreement on border security and reforming immigration policy.

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"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 says.

"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," he continues.

Ridge went on in the interview to call for increased border security measures as well as path to "legitimize" immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

"We want a secure border. We deserve it. Our country has been very very porous," he adds. "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," Ridge says.

"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,' " he continues. "Then let's focus on the bad guys."

Ridge's comments come as Congress and the White House head toward a deadline on Feb. 15 after which the federal government will shut down again unless another spending bill is passed.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE has hinted that he will declare a national emergency over illegal border crossings in an attempt to allocate funding for construction of a border wall as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments MORE (D-Calif.) has continued to refuse to support funding for a wall.