San Antonio Judge Under Fire After Telling New Citizens That If They Don’t Like President-Elect Trump, They Need to Leave

naturalization_ceremony_140221-n-yb753-126While more than 30 million U.S. citizens traveled internationally in 2014, it’s likely that they did so for business or pleasure, not as a permanent move or protest. But Judge John Primomo, a federal magistrate judge in Texas, seems to think that some of America’s newest citizens may be second-thinking their decision to become naturalized.

On Nov. 18, Judge Primomo was conducting a naturalization ceremony in San Antonio when he strayed from his usual script, telling the new citizens that if they don’t like the new president-elect, they can leave.

“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,” he said. “He will be your president and if you do not like that, you need to go to another country.”

While many U.S. residents said that they would move to Canada following the election of Donald Trump, for immigrants, the comment struck a much harsher note.

President-elect Donald Trump, since the beginning of his campaign, has said that he will deport millions of immigrants — specifically Mexicans — whom he called rapists and criminals. He also has plans to build a 2,000 mile wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The same day that Judge Primomo made this comment, Trump said that he would nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general. Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, is a strict anti-immigration proponent.

Judge Primomo has been criticized for his comment. Five Texas district court judges voted unanimously to remove him from the bench, according to Orlando Garcia, chief judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Justice Garcia himself said that he was troubled and upset by the comments.

“It’s very uncharacteristic. Johnny Primomo actually is a good judge and good man,” said Justice Garcia. “I don’t know what led him to do this. This has never happened before. Otherwise we certainly would have heard about it.”

Primomo has since commented on last week’s event:

“I would never say anything like that. I wasn’t trying to say anything for or against Donald Trump. I was just trying to say something hopeful and unifying and unfortunately it was taken out of context.”

Justice Garcia said that he’d spoken with Primomo, and agreed that he’d used a poor choice of words. He will no longer be handling naturalization proceedings.

Since 1989, Primomo has been conducting naturalization ceremonies and has sworn in more than 100,000 new U.S. citizens. His term does not expire until July 2020, but at age 64, he is eligible for retirement next year.