U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) took to the floor of Congress Thursday to deliver a defense of immigration and the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“All immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, are human beings, and they are entitled to be treated with human respect and dignity,” he said.
Suozzi’s speech comes as Congress decides the fate of Dreamers, people who were brought to the country illegally as children. Under DACA, immigrants who met certain criteria were allowed to remain in the United States.
In September, the Department of Justice announced that it would repeal DACA. Young adults who had previously qualified for the program would be eligible for deportation in March.
In his speech, Suozzi compared the immigrants protected by DACA to his father, Italian immigrant and former Glen Cove Mayor Joesph Suozzi.
“I believe that this is the greatest country on Earth, and I believe my dad knew that,” he said. “And he also knew that a central part to being the greatest country on Earth is being that beacon of hope to so many people… if we really want to make America great again, we have to reclaim that mantle as the beacon of hope.”
It was not the first time Souzzi brought up his father when talking about the plight of DACA recipients. Shortly after the Justice Department’s announcement last September, Suozzi held a news conference in Huntington. Flanked by three local DACA recipients, he pledged to fight to preserve DACA and to give its recipients a path to citizenship.
“Let’s figure out a way to do the American thing here, to treat all men and women as though they’re created equal,” Suozzi said at the time. “Let’s do the human thing.”
DACA was at the center of negotiations to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown. On Monday, the Senate reached a deal to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the majority leader, promised that the Senate would take up a measure to address DACA.
Suozzi released a statement on Saturday slamming Republicans over the government shutdown.
“It is hard to imagine how the President, and the Republicans who are in control of the Senate and the House, cannot perform the most fundamental task of passing a spending bill and keeping the government open,” he said.