Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is urging President Joe Biden to reform immigration policies and provide extra funds to Long Island for the education of unaccompanied minors who have fled their home countries.
An increasing number of undocumented immigrants have been resettling in Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens, Suozzi said in a letter to Biden on Tuesday. Suozzi also held a news conference on Tuesday to speak about the issue outside MercyFirst in Syosset, a facility that provides housing and support to vulnerable and neglected children, including undocumented youth.
“I am so frustrated with the back and forth on this issue for over 30 years while children and families continue to suffer,” Suozzi said. “The time has come to make a deal and finally address this issue. We must provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and legal protection for essential workers and other family members while finally securing the border.”
In addition to immigration reform, Suozzi called for additional funding for schools that cannot afford to educate the influx of immigrant students. He cited a report from the Office of Refugee Resettlement which states that at least 2,494 unaccompanied minors have been relocated to Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens as of June 2021. According to Suozzi, that amounts to about $62 million in total costs for schools across the region.
“My immediate concern is that our local education system is not adequately prepared to handle this influx in students,” Suozzi said. “Our educators are humanitarians and welcome these children with open arms, but due to the lack of necessary financial resources to educate them, we cannot continue to ask the local communities to provide the funding.”
Suozzi then appealed to emotion in the letter, calling the United States “a compassionate nation” that should work together to take care of the issue. The letter was also addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Suozzi noted that he previously sent a letter to the education and health and human services departments last spring and had not received an adequate response.