WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that illegal immigrants do essential work in the United States and he has firsthand knowledge of that — because they fix his house.
Powell, a moderate Republican, urged his party to support immigration generally because it is “what’s keeping this country’s lifeblood moving forward.’’
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ he said a path to legal status should be offered to illegal immigrants because they “are doing things we need done in this country.’’
He said: “They’re all over my house, doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I’m sure you’ve seen them at your house. We’ve got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status.’’
Powell did not say whether he has hired illegal immigrants directly or they showed up with contractors.
Powell was President George W. Bush’s first-term secretary of state and the nation’s top military officer in the presidency of Bush’s father and in the early months of the Clinton administration. Despite his Republican standing — he was once considered a formidable GOP presidential or vice president prospect but stayed out of contention — he endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
In lamenting the party’s rightward drift yesterday, he said Republicans must not become anti-immigration and spoke in support of legislation that would give certain children of illegal immigrants a way to become citizens if they pursue a college education or military service.