Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Friday that there’s no need for a wall along America’s southern border, panning President Trump’s signature campaign promise on border security.
CBS News reported that Ridge, who was the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security when the office was created under former President George W. Bush, says the U.S. doesn’t “need” a wall blocking itself off from a neighbor.
“I don’t think we need it,” Ridge said. “I think there are things we can do with technology that foregoes the need to build a 3,000 mile border [wall] with a neighbor.”
“I prefer presidents that tear down walls rather than build them,” he added.
Ridge didn’t have all criticism for Trump’s administration, however. In the same interview, Ridge praised the president for selecting deputy White House Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen to run the agency.
“This is a woman that’s got public and private sector experience,” Ridge told CBS.
“She’s been deputy chief of staff to the president now, she was General [John] Kelly’s chief of staff [at DHS], she’s well versed and worked with the private sector on preparedness issues and cyber security issues and the like.”
He also defended the relief efforts in response to the 2017 hurricane season, which saw major storms devastate Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
“I’m telling you right now in three or four months you’re going to hear people complaining that the response to these recent hurricanes wasn’t quick enough or there’s money wasted, but by and large FEMA’s done a pretty good job over the years. Now more than ever they’ve got better coordination,” Ridge said.
“I think by and large FEMA’s taken some unfair hits over the time.”
The former Bush aide added that DHS rarely receives praise when things go correctly.
“One of the challenges of Homeland Security is that it’s tough to celebrate success when success means nothing happens.”