GOP New York lawmaker calls Cuomo a 'thug' over ICE criticism
© Getty Images

GOP Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinRepublican fears grow over rising Democratic tide DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program Overnight Defense: House panel probes Pompeo's convention speech | UN council rejects US demand to restore Iran sanctions | Court rules against Pentagon policy slowing expedited citizenship MORE (N.Y.) on Thursday slammed his state's governor, Andrew Cuomo, after the Democrat criticized the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during a primary debate.

In an tweet, Zeldin called Cuomo a "thug," the same term Cuomo used to describe officers in ICE Wednesday night during a debate with fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon. Opposition to the agency has risen sharply among Democrats amid President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE's crackdown on illegal immigration.

“New York state is the state that is suing Donald Trump for ripping babies from the arms of the mothers. New York state is the state that said we will not cooperate with ICE, they’re a bunch of thugs,” Cuomo said Wednesday night.


Zeldin also responded to Cuomo in an interview on Fox News, saying that Republican gubernatorial candidate Marcus Molinaro was the real winner of the Democrats' debate.

Cuomo and Nixon, who trails him in polling by wide margins, have traded blows over whether the state should do more to resist the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Democratic officials and advocacy groups have sharply criticized the White House and the Department of Homeland Security over detentions and deportations of undocumented immigrants, with many liberals calling for a total abolition of ICE.

Calls to eliminate the agency have yet to gain traction among the Democratic Party's establishment, but have recently gained high-profile supporters including New York Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize Dueling town halls represent high stakes for Trump MORE (D) and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio (D).