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Tom Suozzi Calls For An ‘Ellis Island’ At The Southern Border

January 2, 2024

Publication: Long Island Press

By: Michael Malaszczyk

Tom Suozzi speaks to reporters via Zoom. (Screenshot)
Tom Suozzi speaks to reporters via Zoom. (Screenshot)

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has said that there is a simple, bipartisan solution to the migrant crisis: build an Ellis Island-type facility at the border.

Speaking to reporters on the campaign trail for the Feb. 13 special election in NY03, Suozzi highlighted his past work with Republicans – specifically former Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) – on this issue. The pair had wrote an Op-Ed on the matter back in 2019 when they both held office, though Suozzi acknowledged that King is supporting his opponent, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck).

“It’s gonna require a bipartisan compromise that secures the border and gives the Republicans what they want and gives the Democrats what they want,” Suozzi said. “Whether it’s, it’s more immigration judges, more Border Patrol agents, more physical barriers, or radar technology, you’ve got to secure the border. We need to have an Ellis Island on the southern border, which is a large facility where people can enter into the facility and be processed at the facility. Right now we have these 1950s era facilities that can process maybe 40 or 50 people a day. We need to have a large facility where you have enough immigration judges, enough border agents, facilities where people’s health can be checked, and a process to ensure people that are there have credible fear or legitimate asylum claims.”

In discussing the need for better processing facilities at the border, Suozzi also stressed more work needs to be done to solve the migrant crisis abroad, where they first arise – in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

“I don’t think that the Republicans, or most Republicans at least, are against immigration, per se,” Suozzi added. “What they don’t like is the chaos. They don’t like people streaming across the border, and I don’t like that either.”

Suozzi, DeRiggi-Whitton Hit Out At Pilip

Suozzi was joined at this news conference by Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), the new leader for the legislature’s minority caucus, who hit at Pilip’s record at the county level, claiming that Pilip voted no to a budget proposal by the minority caucus that would have added 100 new police officers to Nassau County, shortly following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“I’d actually had hoped that she would be someone who could make a difference and could use her voice to push for things that I believe we have in common,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “And honestly, I’ve been so disappointed.”

The pair also criticized Pilip’s reluctance to debate Suozzi. Pilip has agreed to one televised debate on Feb. 8, while Suozzi wants more.

“I’m hoping that my opponent in this race will actually engage in debates with me,” Suozzi said. “Typically the person with high name recognition doesn’t want to debate. And the person with low name recognition should be saying ‘I want the debates, I demand debates,’ to get attention. But this has been flipped on its head, I’m asking for debates because I want to really debate the issues that our country is facing, and talk about the bipartisan type solutions that we need to solve these problems.”

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