ex israeli soldier bids to replace george santos in key race blasts bidens irresponsible border policy

An Ethiopian-Israeli immigrant who’s been a harsh critic of the Biden administration’s border policies is hoping to replace former GOP Rep. George Santos in a closely watched special election. 

Mazi Pilip, R-N.Y., joined “Fox & Friends” Friday to call out her Democratic opponent, former Rep. Tom Suozzi, for supporting open borders during his previous stint in Congress from 2017 to 2023.

The two candidates, who will go head-to-head in a special election on Tuesday, traded barbs during a debate this week when asked about a number of topics – including immigration and abortion.

Suozzi, a former lawmaker in the House who unsuccessfully ran for governor of the Empire State twice, and Pilip, a former Israel Defense Forces soldier and relative political newcomer serving as a Republican county legislator, met face to face on Long Island in the first and only debate in the special election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

DEMOCRAT SUOZZI RUNNING FOR GEORGE SANTOS SEAT TAKES HEAT FOR 2019 POST ON ICE AMID NEW YORK’S MIGRANT CRISIS

Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip met face to face in the first and only debate, which aired Thursday night, in the special election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District. (Getty Images)

Asked by a voter in the district who attended the debate what steps they would take to address the migrant crisis in New York City and the impact it’s having on those who live in the district, Pilip replied, “Before we even address the issue inside, we have to make sure first and foremost we need to secure the border. After that, then we have to come up with a plan. We have to know who’s here. We don’t even know who all those people are.”

Pilip called out her opponent for “causing the border crisis,” saying that when Suozzi was in Congress with the Democratic majority, the border was “opened” by the Biden administration. 

Pilip explained that she supports legal immigration and is concerned about “unvetted” individuals posing a threat to U.S. national security. 

Pilip holds weapon during IDF service

Mazi Melesa Pilip holds a weapon during her service in the Israeli Defense Forces. (Fox News)

“I am all about bringing people here to give them the opportunity to live the American dream. It has to be done correctly, the way I did it. My husband, who came from Ukraine, came here legally. What they are doing, is so irresponsible in many ways,” she told Steve Doocy, noting the drugs and guns brought across the border.

Pilip said if she is sent to D.C., she will support the impeachment against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The vote to impeach Mayorkas fell short by a few votes, as Santos’ seat remains vacant after his expulsion from the House last December. 

“[Suozzi] failed to protect the American people. He should not be there. And this is why this election is so important. We have to have a strong majority to start to do the right things. Right now, they don’t have it. This is about saving our country. This is about stopping the nonsense of the Left Democratic Party [that’s] putting the American people at risk.”

Tom Suozzi

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, Democratic candidate for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks during a campaign rally at the Polish National Home in Glen Cove, N.Y., on Sunday, February 4, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Suozzi fired back during the debate by saying Pilip isn’t offering solutions to the border crisis, criticizing Republicans who opposed a Senate bill to bolster border security and provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. 

“She has no solutions,” he said. “There’s a solution that’s been proposed in the United States Senate that would actually build more wall, would get more border agents, would deal with asylum seekers, would reform the laws to make it better, and would give money to the state of New York and the city of New York to deal with the migrant crisis that we currently have.”

A Siena College poll conducted for Newsday from Feb. 3 to Feb. 6 showed Suozzi leading Pilip 48% to 44% among likely voters. The special election is slated to take place on Feb. 13. Early voting began in the district on Feb. 3.

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Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.

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