Republican Party exploits illegal immigration as issue in New York special election

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Democrats have a significant advertising advantage in New York’s special congressional elections so far. But based on the GOP ads voters see, Republicans see immigration and border security as a potential weakness for the Democratic nominee Tom Susie.

“Tom Suozzi rolled out the red carpet for illegal immigrants,” one ad said The narrator says.

“Another murder committed. Another illegal immigrant arrested because of open border extremists like [Gov. Kathy] Hochul’s chosen candidate, Tom Suozzi, Rails post.

Susi, a former member of the House of Representatives, is running against Republican Mazi Melissa Belep in the special election scheduled for February 13. It’s a district that voted 8 points for President Joe Biden in 2020 but has made steady Republican gains in the years since. Belep’s allies point to the votes Susi received when he was a member of Congress against The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which would have expanded the scope of immigration enforcement activities and banned sanctuary cities.

Republicans also cite his public rhetoric, such as when he told viewers Democratic gubernatorial primary debate in 2022 That he “kicked ICE out of Nassau County.” (Susie on Thursday He argued that the ads took that comment out of context.)

Republicans are running what could be a preview of what lies ahead in the 2024 general election up and down the ballot. Former President Donald Trump and other GOP presidential candidates have criticized Biden and the influx of migrants at the border for years. And voters care even beyond the border: In New York, more than 80% of registered voters across the state said the recent influx of immigrants is a serious problem, according to Siena College Survey Conducted earlier this month.

“Make no mistake about this. This is a crisis that has put a strain on resources across the state,” David Laska, communications director for the New York State Republican Party, told NBC News.

The Siena poll also found that 59% of registered voters disapprove of the work Hochul, a Democrat, has done to address the recent influx of immigrants to New York.

Advertisements run by Belep’s allies, including the National Republican Congressional Committee, have linked Suzy to Hochul’s handling of the immigration crisis.

Another weakness for Suozzi could be A letter he signed while a member of Congress in 2022, along with Representative Cori Bush, Democrat from Missouri, and dozens of others. The letter called on the Biden administration to rescind Section 42, a measure implemented during the pandemic that allowed Border Patrol agents to return migrants seeking asylum to their home countries or to Mexico.

“It’s a big issue in the 3rd Congressional District, both the Queens part and the Nassau part. Ho [Suozzi] “He should run on his record,” said Joe Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Party, adding: “Tom Suozzi is on the wrong side of this issue. The people of the district don’t agree with him, and we’ll see that when they come out to vote early and on Election Day. We’ll see where “They stand.”

While Democrats focused on other issues, Republicans dominated advertising in Nassau County on the issue before Suozzi stepped in to respond this week.

In one of his campaign’s ads, a commentator tells viewers: “You’ve heard a lot of bullshit blaming Tom Suozzi for the immigrant problem. Really?”

The ad shows a clip of Suozzi on Fox News in 2018 defending ICE and continues with the narrator saying, “Tom Suozzi will work with both parties to close illegal immigration routes but open paths to citizenship for those who follow the rules.” “.

A second ad, released on Wednesday, shows Suozzi in a direct-to-camera appeal, telling voters: “The southern border is 2,000 miles away. But the migrant crisis has arrived in our backyard,” he said, repeating his promise to work across the corridor to address the crisis.

“Republicans are very much trying to emulate…a successful attack they had in 2022. All the Republicans on Long Island and in Westchester have been talking about crime in New York and using it as a cudgel,” one Democratic strategist working on House campaigns told NBC News. “.

Suozzi echoed that sentiment at a press conference on Thursday. “My opponent is very good at telling us all what the problem is,” he said. “We all know what the problem is! What are you going to do about it?”

He added: “I proposed concrete ideas about what should be done to solve the problems we face. she has not.”

The Democratic strategist added that the migrant crisis may not reach home specifically for Nassau County voters in this race, saying: “As a result of immigrants being sent to New York City, none of them are being sent to Long Island.”

On the other hand, local news coverage of New York City is widely consumed on Long Island.

“No one believes it,” Laska of the state Republican Party responded, adding: “How many people in Nassau County take the train to New York City to work every day? Right? And they see what’s going on on the ground.”

He said Republicans are telling voters that if they don’t have an immigrant crisis in their communities, it’s because of Republican elected officials.

“Many of the counties that don’t have the problem of straining their resources are because they have county-level officials — in most cases, Republicans — who refuse to bus illegal immigrants from New York City to other areas of the state,” Laska added.

Cairo agreed, adding that the migrant crisis is hitting voters close to home this spring.

“People are upset,” he said. “This is not about something that’s happening in Texas, or something that’s happening in the Southwest. This is in Nassau County and in northeast Queens.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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