In Orange County, California, a legal immigrant is among those leading the fight against illegal immigrants.
Michelle Park Steel, an Orange County supervisor, was born in South Korea and raised in Japan. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was a teenager and worked through the legal immigration process.
“It was difficult and time-consuming, but we achieved our version of the American Dream — like the millions who came before us,” Steel wrote in an Op-Ed published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.
But she believes the nation’s immigration system is being threatened by cities and counties in California that adopt “sanctuary state” policies where local law enforcement refuses to work with immigration officials.
She voted to have Orange County join a federal lawsuit against SB 54, a law passed by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., last year that prohibits local law enforcement officials from notifying immigration authorities when a person in the country illegally is being released from custody after committing a crime.
“We cannot allow this to happen in Orange County and we need to protect our families and our homes here in Orange County,” she said. “And that means bolstering our cooperation with federal immigration enforcement and stopping our county from becoming a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants.”
Steel also introduced a resolution condemning the state’s sanctuary laws.
“Instead of protecting American citizens, politicians in Sacramento have prioritized the safety of alien criminals,” Steel wrote. “They are provided privileges that American citizens don’t receive — while endangering innocent people.”
Steel, for whom English is a third language, has been accused of being a racist for her position by supporters of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
But she says her stance is about protecting citizens from criminals.
“Condemning the sanctuary law has nothing to do with race or politics,” she wrote. “It’s about protecting Americans and their constitutional rights.”
“States cannot simply opt out of federal laws they don’t like,” she added. “If tomorrow California decided that the First Amendment was a nuisance and passed legislation to restrict this constitutional right, Americans wouldn’t accept the new law.”
In an interview last month on Fox News, Steel said the first duty of government is to protect its citizens, and a law that prevents immigration officials from apprehending criminal illegal immigrants does just the opposite.
“We are not talking about law-abiding illegal aliens. We’re talking about criminals on the street. It’s very dangerous, and public safety is very, very important in Orange County,” Steel said. “We just want to stop these criminals walking on our streets.”
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