Rep.Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), above, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) on...

Rep.Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), above, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) on Tuesday announced a new House Democratic group that will press for adoption of a bipartisan border deal proposed by the U.S. Senate. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Suozzi wasted no time in turning his successful campaign message on fixing the border crisis into a new Democratic caucus he unveiled Tuesday to call out Republicans for blocking a Senate bipartisan border deal.

Just two weeks after being sworn in as the congressman from New York’s 3rd District, Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and his co-chair, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), announced a 26-member task force of moderate and swing-district Democrats to promote a bipartisan border fix.

“This group is going to work together to try and work with our colleagues to try and figure out how we can get the Senate bipartisan compromise or something like that to the floor and voted on, because we believe that border security is a real issue,” Suozzi said.

The Senate bipartisan border deal proposed last month contains $20 billion for border security, and adds 1,500 customs and border protection personnel, 4,300 asylum officers and 100 immigration judges and staff. The measure includes 100 fentanyl inspection machines and 10,000 new beds in detention centers.

“The Republicans refuse to actually move forward because President Trump has told them: ‘Don’t. We don’t want to give [President Joe] Biden a victory. We don’t want to give him a win. We want to campaign on the chaos,’ ” Suozzi said at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol.

Republicans dismissed the new group, called the Democrats for Border Security Task Force, as an attempt to shave the Republicans’ political advantage on immigration issues.

“That’s only becoming an issue because they're reading polls,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said of Democrats and the task force in an interview outside the House chamber on Tuesday.

About 87% of Americans think immigration is a very or somewhat important issue and more of them think Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (45%) would do a better job of handling immigration issues than Biden (31%), according to polls in February by YouGov, a public opinion and data company.

Democrats have been on the defensive on immigration since Biden dismantled many of former President Trump’s restrictions on immigration and a record number of migrants came to the U.S. border with Mexico last year.

D’Esposito and Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) said a good starting point for Democrats would be H.R. 2, the bill House Republicans passed in May that would restore many of the Trump administration restrictions on the border and immigration.

LaLota said he also backs a bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus bill he said would authorize the president to secure the border, does not give “amnesty” to noncitizens who broke the law or money to “sanctuary cities” that are coping with an influx of migrants and limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Suozzi said he could support that bill, which has funding for Ukraine and Israel, if it also includes humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Suozzi won plaudits from immigration advocates and moderate Democratic groups for leaning into the border crisis instead of running away from it in his successful campaign against GOP candidate Mazi Melesa Pilip in a special election last month to replace expelled GOP Rep. George Santos.

But he acknowledged the difficulty of passing any bill this year.

“It’s going to be a very difficult process, but that's what politics is,” Suozzi said. “There is a solution that's been proposed that's very reasonable, that doesn’t have everything I want, but it will solve this problem. So, we need to try and continually bring this issue up to the public.”

Correction: A bipartisan border package has been proposed in the U.S. Senate but has not passed. Due to an editing error, the status of the legislation was misstated in an early version of this story.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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