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Legal immigrants can commend Trump on his efforts to end illegal immigration

Legal immigrants can commend Trump on his efforts to end illegal immigration
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The fight over sanctuary cities is not just about illegal aliens. It reflects deeply held beliefs by most Americans about the rule of law and personal responsibility. We are both a nation of immigrants — and nation of laws — laws that are passed by our duly elected representatives and enforced by the executive branch and judicial system. Our entire history is rooted in the fact that immigrants established a new nation with the Constitution as our legal framework.

So the ongoing blatant disregard for federal immigration laws shown in a handful of cities — is contrary to our established governance between states and the federal government. This culture of lawlessness was created by the previous administration, when it prioritized the removal of criminal illegal aliens while letting other illegal aliens remain free.

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This policy, known as the Priority Enforcement Program, was enacted through a memorandum, not a law or regulation, and stated that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “must exercise prosecutorial discretion in the enforcement of the law.” This meant that immigration officials were forced to look the other way when cities openly harbored thousands of illegal aliens — thereby creating sanctuary cities.

 

Fortunately, this politically-motivated action was rescinded in an executive order signed by President Donald J. Trump on Jan. 25, 2017. It is his administration that is faithfully applying the immigration laws passed by Congress, and ensuring that the federal government discharges its duties to the American people.

First, there is no such thing as an undocumented immigrant. We have legal immigrants and illegal aliens. The term "undocumented" suggests that a mere lack of paperwork is the problem, when the real issue is that someone is in this country when they shouldn’t be. No amount of subsequent paperwork can right an earlier wrong — that of illegal entry into the country. When our government seeks to rightly enforce the law by deporting that individual, it is unlawful for any other person, organization or government entity to hinder that removal.

There is simply no legal distinction necessitating differential treatment for someone in this country illegally and someone here illegally who has committed a crime. They are both subject to the same laws and removal procedures. While the previous administration ignored this fact, the Trump administration has decided instead to enforce the law as written — and remove politics from the equation — by subjecting everyone in this country illegally to removal.

In just the first eight months of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE being in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed nearly 365,000 criminal aliens. Nearly 92 percent of aliens arrested by ICE in Fiscal Year 2016-17 had been convicted or faced charges, were fugitives from the law, or had been deported and reentered illegally. ICE also made nearly 5,000 criminal arrests in anti-gang operations, including arresting members of the dangerous MS-13 gang.

Establishing a sanctuary city for those who are here illegally, especially these kinds of criminal aliens, only serves as a magnet, drawing in even more illegal aliens, resulting in further lawlessness and criminal activity. In fact, nearly 95 percent of aliens in our prison system are illegal.

It is critical to remember that Trump is a pro-legal immigration president. Growing up in Queens and living in Manhattan, he has met people from every walk of life as a developer and hotelier, people of every faith and every ethnic background, from Auschwitz survivors to Hispanic construction workers. He understands the sacrifices people make to come to the U.S. legally, the attorney’s fees they pay, and the enormous wait times they undergo to become a citizen. He respects those who respect our laws, which include First Lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden picks up where she left off The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden navigates pressures from Dems Former first lady launches 'Office of Melania Trump' MORE, who came here legally on an employment visa, received a Green Card, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

As a New Yorker, President Trump saw firsthand the effect the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 had on thousands of families — attacks which were enabled in part by immigration loopholes exploited by those seeking to harm us. Immigration is a critical national security issue that cannot be taken lightly.

Sanctuary cities protect those who have flaunted our immigration laws. Americans are less safe and there are tragic, real-life consequences impacting American families as a result of these misguided policies.

It is time to get tough and insist on consequences for sanctuary cities that prevent immigration officials from following the law and doing their jobs. President Trump should be commended for his resolve on this issue. It is vital that he succeeds to keep America safe.

Dino Teppara is an attorney, reserve naval officer, and naturalized U.S. citizen who served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonBiden faces deadline pressure on Iran deal Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-SC) and in former S.C. Governor Nikki R. Haley’s administration. The views expressed are his own.