The two candidates vying to replace expelled ex-Rep. George Santos in next week’s House special election clashed Monday over a proposed $118 billion Senate deal that would crack down on border crossings and provide aid to Israel and Ukraine.
Ex-Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi embraced the compromise as a sensible “bipartisan” solution to the migrant crisis while Republican Mazi Pilip blasted it as a green light for an “invasion” at the southern border.
The election-year bill is opposed by former President Donald Trump, the likely 2024 GOP White House nominee — and is considered dead on arrival in the Republican-led House.
The measure would provide about $20 billion to control illegal immigration at the southern border, which saw more than 2.4 million encounters in fiscal year 2023 and swamped New York City with 170,000 migrants.
One of the provisions would allow federal authorities to shutdown entry points when encounters average 5,000 per day over seven days — or hit 8,500 in a single day.
“The proposed Senate border deal is an absolute nonstarter for me because it simply puts into law the invasion currently happening at our southern border,” Pilip said in a statement, adding that the border closure thresholds would see at least 1.5 million additional migrants entering our country each year — even if they’re enforced.
“That is truly appalling,” the Republican said.
Suozzi, meanwhile, held a Zoom press conference to endorse the bill in which he painted Pilip as standing with Trump and GOP hard-liners who would rather rail against illegal immigration than address it.
The Democrat noted the bill would boost funding to hire more border and asylum agents, tighten asylum policies and provide $1.4 billion to help New York City and other municipalities support migrants.
“There’s a stark contrast between me and my opponent. I would support it … I support this comprehensive bipartisan solution to address the migrant crisis,” said Suozzi, who added that Pilip “is doing the bidding …. of the Republican extremists in her party who are following former President Trump, who said, `I don’t want to make a deal because I don’t want to give Biden a victory.’
“It’s appalling. What would you do instead?,” the Democrat added.
President Biden has endorsed the Senate bill and vowed to sign it if it comes to his desk, though Suozzi said the president should have addressed the crisis sooner.
“All throughout this campaign, I have advocated for securing our border, as the migrant crisis that was created by Tom Suozzi and Joe Biden has brought severe negative quality of life impacts to the residents of CD-3,” Pilip said. “This deal does not accomplish that goal at all.”
The Republican also said she opposed linking aid to Israel and Ukraine to a border deal, saying all three issues should be dealt with separately.
The migrant crisis has emerged as a dominant issue in the special election for New York’s 3rd District which takes in much of Nassau County and parts of northern Queens.
Bad feeling over the issue reached a boiling point in recent days after it was revealed that migrants charged with assaulting two officers in Times Square had fled to California after being released instead of detained pending trial.
Monday was the third of the nine days of early voting preceding the Feb. 13 special election.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, 19,714 residents of Nassau had voted in the race — 8,497 Democrats, 6,770 Republicans, 3,735 registered independents and a few hundred registered to minor parties, the county elections board reported,.
NYC’s Board of Elections reported 3,519 Queens residents had voted in the race through Monday.