On June 23, New York’s 3rd congressional district has the opportunity to elect a better Democrat.

Here’s the problem with Tom Suozzi: He simply protects the status quo. With all that has occurred on Long Island, primary voters should consider someone who has demonstrated an interest in improving our district.

The reality is that despite being a Democrat, Rep. Suozzi has done little to enact concrete change in Congress and is too cozy with Republicans on most issues.

Take immigration for example. Last year, Rep. Suozzi broke with house Democrats to vote in support of ICE. In an interview with Fox News, he called the resolution vote a “political game” and compared the vote to a small number of Republicans who called for the IRS to be abolished in 2015.

To compare these two movements is disingenuous and seeks to distract from the real issue of an immigration agency that has been given too much latitude for raids.

Last year, he participated in a congressional visit to detention centers on the southern border with Mexico. He saw the state of the detention centers and the way detained migrants were treated by officials inside the facilities. And despite that, he still hasn’t done anything to restrict the agency.

At the same time, challenger Melanie D’Arrigo also visited detention centers through a volunteer group, and that trip reinforced her belief that ICE needs drastic reform and reorganization. She witnessed the mistreatment of migrants in detention and saw it for what it is: an injustice.

In addition, Rep. Suozzi uses this issue to hide behind the vague language of bipartisanship. In interviews with C-SPAN and Fox News, he will most likely say that Democrats and Republicans need to come together to work out a solution and be willing to negotiate.

It is important to note that he doesn’t present an original idea or potential bill in these interviews.

Rep. Suozzi claims authority to speak about immigration by way of experience as Mayor of Glen Cove. He says that as Mayor he addressed issues surrounding the migrant community.

However, he never mentions what specifically he did to support the migrant community. A cursory Google search comes up with support for a hiring center in the city, but again, nothing specifies what this support entailed.

Despite vague rhetoric, Rep. Suozzi did come through with a bipartisan plan; a bill written in collaboration with retiring Republican Rep. Peter King. T

heir plan would require DACA recipients and those who were granted asylum to adhere to unrealistically high expectations, including a $2,000 fee to protect their status. It is egregious to expect people to pay that high of a price to continue to live in the U.S. Bipartisanship aside, It shocks me to think that both Rep. Suozzi and King would seek to make money off of immigrants.

It is very curious to see Rep Suozzi’s reluctance to criticize ICE publicly now when he has criticized the agency directly in the past. As Nassau County Executive, he heavily criticized a 2007 ICE raid that was supposed to be coordinated with Nassau County Police.

He and then-Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey expressed their frustration at the raid that was disorganized and conducted with a “cowboy mentality.”

They also noted that out of the people arrested, over 90 percent were not targets for arrest and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. If there were valid and widespread issues with ICE shortly after its foundation, then why won’t Rep. Suozzi acknowledge his criticisms now, when they’re more relevant than ever?

The only answer is that he doesn’t have the political will to do so. Despite overseeing a mismanaged ICE raid and visiting an overcrowded detention center, Rep. Suozzi has refused to concur with the majority of his colleagues in Congress.

In a 2019 interview with News 12, he called a path to citizenship a “third rail,” meaning that the idea is too controversial to be considered. How can a path to citizenship be controversial if 80 percent percent of Americans support it?

He has not spoken out against ICE misconduct and continues to hide behind the language of bipartisanship to avoid conflict from conservative supporters.

Melanie D’Arrigo understands the issues behind bipartisanship and pledges to support concrete policies that will begin to reform our immigration system. If the issue of immigration is important to you then there’s a stronger vote for immigrants than the incumbent.

Lya Rothman

Port Washington

Fellowship at D’Arrigo for Congress

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