New cit­i­zens told: Like it or not, Trump’s pres­i­dent

Judge says re­marks that also de­cried protests were in­tended to unify

The Dallas Morning News - - STATE - By JULI­ETA CHIQUILLO Staff Writer [email protected]­las­ Twit­ter: @jm­chiquillo

Hun­dreds of im­mi­grants filed into the In­sti­tute of Texan Cul­tures in San An­to­nio last week to end a years-long wait to be­come U.S. cit­i­zens. But be­fore their nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­mony was over, they had to lis­ten to a lec­ture from a fed­eral judge about Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

“I can as­sure you that whether you voted for him or you did not vote for him, if you are a ci­ti­zen of the United States, he is your pres­i­dent,” Judge John Pri­momo said dur­ing a nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­mony Thurs­day. “He will be your pres­i­dent and if you do not like that, you need to go to another coun­try.”

Pri­momo con­demned anti-Trump demon­stra­tors and foot­ball play­ers who kneel dur­ing the national an­them to protest po­lice bru­tal­ity, ac­cord­ing to KENS-TV.

“I detest that, be­cause you can protest things that hap­pen in this coun­try; you have ev­ery right to,” Pri­momo said, ac­cord­ing to the sta­tion. “You don’t do that by of­fend­ing national sym­bols like the national an­them and the flag of the United States.”

Protests have flared na­tion­wide re­pu­di­at­ing Trump’s vic­tory in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. At one rally at Amer­i­can Univer­sity in Washington, D.C., stu­dents burned U.S. flags and shouted “[Ex­ple­tive] white Amer­ica!” The Washington Post re­ported.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that des­e­cra­tion of the Amer­i­can flag is “sym­bolic speech” pro­tected un­der the First Amend­ment. The de­ci­sion orig­i­nated from a case in Dal­las, where a man burned a U.S. flag out­side the 1984 Repub­li­can National Con­ven­tion to protest Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan.

Pri­momo’s mes­sage to the new cit­i­zens has spurred head­lines from The Huff­in­g­ton Post to Bre­it­bart, but he told KENS that he meant his words to be uni­fy­ing, not po­lit­i­cal, and that he didn’t vote for Trump.

Pri­momo is the son of im­mi­grants from Italy and Ger­many, ac­cord­ing to a pro­file of the judge pub­lished two years ago in the San An­to­nio Ex­press-News.

The U.S. mag­is­trate judge has ad­min­is­tered the cit­i­zen­ship oath to more than 93,000 im­mi­grants since 1989, the news­pa­per re­ported. Many of those new Amer­i­cans wait in line to have their photo taken with Pri­momo af­ter they take the oath.

He told the Ex­press-News in 2014 that there’s no ex­tra pay in­volved in pre­sid­ing over the cer­e­monies.

“I know it never gets old,” Pri­momo said. “I mean, ev­ery time I pro­nounce that ‘You’re a ci­ti­zen of the United States’ — which, that’s not re­ally a re­quire­ment, it’s just kind of a lit­tle em­pha­sis I like to add to it — I get a chill ev­ery sin­gle time.”

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