Congressman Thomas Suozzi delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor on Wednesday, invoking his own heritage and urging that the United States endeavor to reclaim its status as a “beacon of hope” for immigrants around the world.
Suozzi, a first-generation American, recounted the story of his late father, Joseph Suozzi, a renowned judge and New York State Supreme Court Justice who immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1925, a time when anti-Italian sentiment was still pervasive.
“My father really lived a great American success story. He was a man who would proudly say ‘what a country!’ My father died two weeks before my election in 2016, and as I went through his papers, I saw his yearbook from St. Dominick’s High School when he was 18 years old,” Suozzi said. “My father wrote, ‘my goal is to be a real American.’”
The remarks came days before Congress was poised to strike a deal on an immigration bill, a key element at the heart of discussions ahead of the continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government. As of publication, no such deal has yet been reached, and the threat of a shutdown still hangs in the air.
Amid the clamor and partisan rhetoric, Suozzi attempted to pierce through the gridlock by appealing to our “basic fundamental American concepts.”
“Let’s first remember that all immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, are human beings, and they are entitled to be treated with human respect and dignity,” Suozzi said. “And the most fundamental concept in America is that ‘all men and women are created equal.’ Not ‘all men and women with a green card are created equal.’ Not ‘all men and women that are citizens are created equal.’ Not ‘all men and women from a particular country are created equal,’ but all human beings are created equal.”