Democrat vying for Santos seat blames feds for New York migrant crisis, begs Biden for help
January 2, 2024
Publication: NY Post
By: Ryan King
Former Rep. Tom Suozzi became the latest local Democrat to plead with President Biden and congressional leaders for federal relief from the migrant crisis straining New York’s budget.
“The problem has been foisted on the city of New York, the state of New York, and other states by the federal government because they failed to address this issue for such a long period of time,” Suozzi, 61, told reporters Tuesday at a news conference during which he unveiled two letters he penned to Biden and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
“It is just reaching epic proportions right now,” Suozzi went on. “What we really need to do is create this urgency that the federal government do its job and pass a comprehensive solution. I’m trying to raise the temperature on this issue.”
Suozzi, who is trying to win back the Third District seat he held for six years in a Feb. 13 special election to replace lying Rep. George Santos (R-NY), tried to butter Biden up in his letter by praising his stewardship of the economy and foreign affairs before asking him to take on a larger role in solving the problem.
“I ask you to propose a comprehensive, moderate solution that finally secures our border and recognizes the hardships and suffering that has resulted from the federal government’s decades-long failure to address this very real problem,” he wrote.
The Democrat pitched inaugurating a “comprehensive complex at the border,” similar to Ellis Island, to ramp up the processing of migrants and tapping more judges to adjudicate asylum cases in order to alleviate backlogs.
Suozzi’s plea provides insight into the dynamics driving what is expected to be a tight race against Republican Mazi Pilip to succeed Santos, who was expelled from Congress Dec. 1.
A procession of local Democratic elected officials have voiced unease over Biden’s handling of the migrant crisis, with local leaders such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson urging the feds to step up.
Adams has publicly complained about Biden not having a meeting with him on the crisis, even as the Big Apple has taken in more than 161,000 migrants over the past 18 months, according to city officials.
At the same time, Biden has faced unease from progressives over a deal the White House has helped negotiate that would increase spending on border security as part of a broader package that would also include supplemental aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
“I’d like to see the president make this a priority,” Suozzi said of negotiations over the spending plan. “I believe it’s a top issue in the Senate right now. We have to do the same thing in the House.”
In his letter to Johnson and Jeffries, Suozzi asked that the “House of Representatives implement a more formal process to foster good faith negotiations and collaboration with the Senate.”
So far, the deal has been negotiated in the Senate, where lawmakers have struggled to smooth over differences on how to address the influx of asylum seekers. Specifically, a major sticking point is the so-called “parole” policy, which lets migrants enter the US while their asylum requests play out in court, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The three top negotiators, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), discussed the issue remotely over winter break and have begun reconvening talks in Washington, DC.
During fiscal year 2023, which concluded on Sept. 30, more than 2.47 million encounters with migrants were reported along the US-Mexico border, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.
Suozzi told Biden in his letter, “I share your frustration with the political theatrics now playing out in the House of Representatives.”
He also pointed to legislation he helped draft with then-Rep. Peter King (R-NY) to marshal “better radar technology, improved ports of entry, enhanced physical barriers, more immigration judges, and more border patrol agents.”
“The plan also included humanitarian assistance at the border, foreign aid to reduce out-migration from Central America, and a path to earned citizenship for Dreamers and TPS recipients and legal residency for others. Fees collected from the applicants would pay for the costs of the
proposal,” he added.
Suozzi asked Biden, Johnson and Jeffries to consider dusting off that plan.
Currently, Republicans hold a 220-213 majority in the House of Representatives, meaning any spending plan can only lose three GOP votes and still pass along party lines.
Carl Campanile contributed to this report.