Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is among the members of Congress pushing for immigration reform in the wake of a family-separation policy that was widely condemned.
“The policy of separating children from their families at the border was immoral and un-American,” he said in a statement last week. “Instead of bad policies, implemented poorly, we need to strengthen our border security, while crafting comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the urgent issue of the DREAMers and provides a pathway for over 11 million people to live legal and productive lives in America.”
Suozzi’s statement came shortly after he toured a facility in Syosset that was caring for 10 migrant children who had been separated from their families at the southwest border. That followed a trip to Texas the weekend before with eight other members of Congress to inspect the Tornillo Detention Facility and the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso.
In his statement, Suozzi said he “will do everything I can to help expedite the reunification of these children with their moms and dads.” He also said he wanted oversight for the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the Department of Homeland Security, the two organizations that carried out the separation of families.
Since President Donald Trump took office last year, Suozzi has supported migrants who entered the country illegally on several occasions, especially those who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He defended the program on the House floor in January and held a news conference last fall with several DACA recipients, or Dreamers, from the 3rd Congressional District.
Although he spoke out against separating families, Suozzi did not elaborate much on his specific immigration preferences. He said that he is “a strong believer in border security” during the Syosset news conference and that the two parties need to work together on immigration reform.
During an interview on C-SPAN last week, Suozzi said that more agents and detection equipment are needed at the border. He did indicate that he would compromise on a border wall favored by Trump.
“I don’t think the wall’s the answer,” he said. “But if you want to put some physical structures up in some places as part of a compromise, OK, I’ll support that.”
He said immigration reform needed a bipartisan approach, although he was unwilling to support an immigration bill taken up by the House last week (it was overwhelming defeated). He said the bill was a compromise between Republicans, not between the two parties.
Some Democratic members of Congress and candidates have called for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency created in 2003. Efforts to reach Suozzi or his staff for his position on ICE were unavailing.