In a remarkable public service career spanning over a quarter century, former Congressman Tom Suozzi has been a champion for the Indian American community, playing a pivotal role in fostering unity and diversity and strengthening ties between India and the United States.
Suozzi’s journey began as the Mayor of Glen Cove in the 1990s, when he actively supported the Indian American Sikhs in establishing the first Sikh gurdwara in the city. His commitment went beyond words. He worked diligently to clear bureaucratic obstacles, ensuring the successful establishment of the sacred place of worship.
As Nassau County Executive in the 2000s, Suozzi appointed many Indian Americans to high-level positions, including the first Indian American woman in New York to serve as a Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, a turbaned Sikh to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Minority Affairs, and another Indian American to serve as Commissioner of the Assessment Review Commission.
In Congress, Suozzi’s influence extended to the international stage when he served as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Congressional India Caucus. In 2018, Suozzi met with Prime Minister Modi and Indian ministers and business leaders in New Delhi to discuss the India-U.S. relationship. The formal talks were part of a high-level delegation of Congressional leaders to discuss trade, strategic partnerships, immigration, and security coordination. Suozzi also spoke at the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum about how to strengthen the two nations’ strategic partnership.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Suozzi collaborated with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin from Queens and Long Island (AAPIQLI) and worked tirelessly to ensure that every Indian physician received the personal protective equipment (PPE) they needed. Suozzi’s unyielding commitment played a pivotal role in securing crucial PPE for health care professionals in New York.
During his tenure in Congress, Suozzi directed also millions of federal dollars to projects throughout his district through the process of “Congressionally Directed Spending.” One of the federal grants that Suozzi brought back to his district was to India Home, the non-profit senior care organization based in Queens. The $500,000 in federal money is being used by India Home to improve outreach and screenings for colon cancer among South Asian seniors on Long Island and in New York City.
As a Congressman, Suozzi never hesitated to pick up his phone and personally intervene on issues related to Medicare, Social Security, the IRS, and immigration, ensuring that constituents had a strong advocate in their corner. On one occasion, when the families of his constituents faced a critical visa issue, Suozzi took the initiative to call the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi at 5:00AM (afternoon in India). This swift and decisive action demonstrated Suozzi’s commitment to resolving issues promptly, even when it involved international diplomacy.
Suozzi’s support for Indian Americans also extended to cultural celebrations. He facilitated the observance of major events like India Independence Day and India Republic Day. His symbolic act of hoisting the Indian flag atop the Nassau County Executive Building showcased his commitment to celebrating the diversity within the County. Suozzi also actively participated in Diwali and other major Indian festivals, bringing communities together at County Parks and the Executive Building.
Tom Suozzi’s quarter-century journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and fostering strong ties with the Indian American community. His legacy serves as an inspiration for leaders working to build bridges and embrace cultural diversity. It is no wonder that the entire Indian American community is now committed to ensuring that Suozzi is re-elected to Congress in the upcoming special election.
Early voting will take place from Saturday, February 3 through Sunday, February 11. Election Day is on Tuesday, February 13. More information on how and where to vote can be found online at www.suozziforcongress2024.com/vote.