Tom Ridge, the Department of Homeland Security secretary during the Bush administration, said Thursday that Republicans who oppose comprehensive immigration reform are mistaken.
“At the end of the day, I think we’re just flat, dead wrong on the issue. We’re not sending them back, I don’t know why we can’t reach a compromise,” Ridge told Buzzfeed. “And, by the way, ‘compromise’ is not a dirty word in my lexicon, it’s part of the art of governing.”
Ridge said that it is not feasible for the United States to deport all illegal immigrants.
“I think there’s an art to governing and part of the art of governing is recognizing the reality as it exists, not as you want it to be. Part of the reality is that some people on my side of the aisle do not understand is that even if you can identify those 10 or 12 million illegals here, you’re not going to round them up, put them on 747s, and send them home,” Ridge said.
He added that immigrants add to the country’s economy, and are largely law-abiding residents.
“Number two, by and large, 99.9 percent of them, I think, have been basically — they are trying to be responsible, thoughtful, law-abiding people and a very, very few small minority are breaking the law,” Ridge said. “And, by the way, they’re also contributing in many different ways to the success and the diversity of the economy.”
Ridge told Buzzfeed about his experiences at the border and that immigrants are simply coming to the U.S. for opportunity.
“I was down in a lot of those detention centers along the southern border, in Arizona and New Mexico. I don’t find those people coming across the border trying to harm us,” Ridge said. “They’re trying to take advantage of what we’ve always stood for, and that’s opportunity, economic and political freedom.”