Rep. Tom Suozzi (D., N.Y.) lambasted the issue of "open borders" on Friday, claiming it was not a policy on which Democrats should stake their hopes for victory in the coming midterm elections.
Suozzi, one of only 18 Democrats to break with his party and vote in favor of a House resolution expressing support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this week, made the admission during an appearance on "Fox and Friends."
While discussing immigration with one of the show's co-hosts, Pete Hegseth, the congressman was asked if he agreed with comments made by President Donald Trump alleging Democrats had a political "death wish" with their calls to abolish ICE, the federal agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
"Things like abolish[ing] ICE, open borders, things like sanctuary cities – are those winning policies for Democrats?" Hegseth questioned.
Suozzi, who's serving his first term in the House of Representatives from a swing district in the New York City suburbs, stated that open borders "is not a winning" issue. The congressman further elaborated that he, "as most Democrats," was a "strong" proponent of border security.
"Open borders is not a winning policy," Suozzi said. "I'm a strong supporter, as are most Democrats, of strong border security."
Suozzi's assertion that "most Democrats" are for "strong border security" stands in contrast to the growing base of support that abolishing ICE has garnered within the party. The issue, which has become a rallying cry for Democrats ahead of the 2018 elections, has amassed support among potential 2020 White House contenders including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.), Suozzi's home state senator who rebuked ICE as a "deportation force."
Hegseth attempted to ascertain how far Suozzi's support for border security extended.
"When you say border security, are you for a wall?" the host asked.
The congressman demurred, instead stating he supported "some physical structures," an increased physical presence by border patrol, and greater reliance on technology to stymie illegal border crossings.
"I would support some physical structures on the border," Suozzi said. "I think there should be more technology related to radar and things like that, more border patrol."
Suozzi endorsed the idea of Democrats working with the president to mold a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would fix the legal status of so-called "dreamers," illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, and provide the dreamers a pathway to citizenship.
"We need to make a deal where we say ‘listen let's protect the dreamers, let's legalize the people in this country, let's actually solve this problem we've been fighting about for 35 years in this country,'" he said. "Let's actually solve this problem and fix it."
The congressman, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pitched himself as someone who could potentially foster such a bipartisan compromise.
"Mr. President, invite me to the White House," Suozzi said. "I'll come in; I'll negotiate a deal with you."
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted on a non-binding resolution to express support for the "officers and personal" carrying out the "important mission" of ICE. It was brought to the floor for a vote in response to legislation introduced by House Democrats to abolish ICE. The resolution expressing support for ICE passed after receiving overwhelming support from Republicans and only 18 Democrats, including Suozzi. A majority of Democrats, 133, chose to vote present after castigating the resolution as a "stunt," while 34 Democrats cast an outright no vote.
A Gallup poll released this week showed that immigration now tops the list of the most pressing problems Americans believe the nation faces.