Ex-homeland chief uncomfortable with Arizona law
Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER – Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Tuesday he’s uncomfortable with Arizona’s new immigration law, saying it allows police to question people without probable cause.
But he also faulted the Democratic and Republican parties for failing to come up with a national policy and opening the door for laws like Arizona’s, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.
“A pox on both parties,” Ridge, a Republican, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He was in Denver for a discussion of terrorism at the Center for Empowered Living and Learning, which organizes educational events and maintains a permanent exhibit on terrorism.
The law, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday, takes effect this summer. It requires police to try to determine someone’s immigration status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant.
Ridge said he hadn’t read the law, but said “I’m uncomfortable with it from what I’ve seen and heard.”
He singled out the lack of a tougher requirement for probable cause before police question someone’s status.
Ridge was the first secretary of the Homeland Security Department, whose responsibilities include immigration.
Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania in 2003 when he was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to be the first Homeland Security secretary, whose repsonsibilities include immigration. He resigned in 2005.
Ridge said Congress should “legitimize” the status of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country but not grant them citizenship.
“It’s ridiculous to think … we’re going to identify 12 million to 14 million people and send them back,” he said.
Ridge also advocated ID cards with biometric identifiers for immigrant workers and tough penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.
Once those measures were in place, the U.S. could push Mexico to help control immigration, he said.
But Ridge said the odds are against Congress passing such an overhaul.
“I’m not optimistic, and I feel bad about that,” he said.