Politics

New York Democrats finally get aggressive in border fight ahead of Santos special election


Progressives sharpened their own message, writing
in a memo
: “There is no connection between immigration and crime,” while blaming Republicans in an email for “the same xenophobic playbook we’ve seen countless times from Donald Trump and others before.”

The new, emboldened strategies from these disparate groups come as President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee are intensifying their attacks against the GOP over border security.

They are also unfolding at a critical time: Voters will select a congressional representative in a swing district on Long Island on Tuesday, in a race
largely defined by concerns over an influx of migrants
. The race for the seat to replace George Santos is a nail-biter, with a
recent poll
showing former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi ahead by 4 points, the margin of error, against political neophyte Mazi Pilip.

“I’ll be blunt that the Democrats have been pretty bad at offering a vision of the future that responds to the realities of migration,” New York Working Families Party co-Director Ana María Archila said in an interview.

Referring to the GOP, she added, “They know that fear works for their type of politics, and they know that scapegoating immigrants and migrants worked for Trump.”

The left-leaning party and its allies have been scrambling to combat the political onslaught from the right with nuance and statistics: The memo that Archila’s party released Tuesday stressed that the Times Square violence is an anomaly —
a claim backed up with academic studies
— and argued newcomers have for centuries enriched communities.

1199SEIU, the politically influential health care workers union, proffered similar points.

“You have to keep saying nobody is for chaos and disorder,” interim Political Director Helen Schaub said in an interview. “But the alternative to chaos and disorder has to be an orderly legal immigration process versus just shutting it down because, frankly, that hurts all of us.”

To be sure, that message is likely to be a tough sell in politically conservative and even moderate areas like the one Suozzi is hoping to capture on Tuesday.

But it comes as national Democrats are also dialing up their defense over an issue that has given them political agita.

“Donald Trump has directed MAGA Republicans to kill the toughest and fairest reforms to secure the border in decades because he thinks it will help him politically,” the Democratic National Committee blasted in an email this week.

Suozzi’s surrogates are also piling on.

“If MAGA face planting on their impeachment attempt on Tuesday didn’t convince you how important electing Tom Suozzi next week is, I don’t know what will,” former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones wrote in a blast email. “We’ve seen firsthand what one vote means in the House: it’s the difference between political theater and actual government.”

The GOP’s attempted impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting against it.

Democrats need this shift: Immigration and border security routinely
rank as top concerns
for voters this year, with many of them
blaming Biden
.

But it might be too late for Suozzi, one New York-based Democratic consultant said.

“In this current race, a cake is probably already baked in terms of the messaging,” said operative Jon Paul Lupo, who is not working on the special election. “It’s a recent development in Washington. It’s going to be hard for that to trickle down directly to voters. … But it will help Democrats over the course of the next 10 months as they move on this issue in the House races across New York and the country.”

Jeff Coltin contributed to this report.



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