New Citizens Deserve A Warmer Welcome Than This

The United States is affectionately called "the land of the free." Protected by First Amendment rights, Americans can publicly express themselves — and that includes speaking openly about President-Elect Donald Trump. But contrary to the American idea of free speech, one Texas federal judge told new citizens to accept Trump or leave the country.

From 1989 onward, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo, the son of German and Italian immigrants, has administered the citizenship oath to more than 93,000 immigrants, The Dallas Morning News reported. "I can assure you that whether you voted for [Trump] or you did not vote for him, if you are a citizen of the United States, he is your president," Primomo said at a Nov. 17 naturalization ceremony at the Institutes of Texan Cultures, KENS-TV in San Antonio reported. "He will be your president, and if you do not like that, you need to go to another country," the judge told the 500 immigrants who took the oath of U.S. citizenship that day.

Primomo told the TV station his comments were meant to be "unifying" and respectful to the office of president rather than political, ABC News reported. He also took a negative stance on anti-Trump protesters, saying, "I detest that because you can protest things that happen in this country; you have every right to. You don't do that by offending national symbols like the national anthem and the flag of the United States," KENS-TV reported.

While Primomo at least admitted that protesters have the right to make their stance known, it is still unfortunate that he decided to speak out against these rights. His implication that anyone who disagrees with Trump's being president should leave the country is even more unfortunate.

U.S. citizens, naturalized or native-born, are, within reason, free to express themselves however they see fit. Of course, there are basic limitations on free speech, mainly when it comes to the safety of other people — don't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and so on. But there's no law in place that regulates peoples' feelings, no government mechanism that compels American citizens to like the fact that Trump will be their next president. According to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, "A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." Though Primomo never said he was endorsing Trump, it is still especially inappropriate that a federal judge would dictate how he thinks new U.S. citizens should behave.