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EDITORIAL: Legal immigrants scuttle sanctuary city plans

It’s always amusing when left-leaning media outlets such as The New York Times express surprise at something that makes perfect sense. Such was the case in an immigration battle taking place in Maryland.

As the Times’ Sabrina Tavernise reported Monday, lawmakers in Howard County, Md., declared their intention to make this suburban area between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore a sanctuary county. It seemed like a slam dunk, as Ms. Tavernise noted that the county has twice as many Democrats as Republicans, and one in five residents was born abroad.

But the sanctuary bill ran up against stiff opposition — and it wasn’t from heartless, bigoted and xenophobic right wingers.

“In passionate testimony before county legislators,” Ms. Tavernise wrote, “and in tense debates with liberal neighbors born in the United States, legal immigrants argued that offering sanctuary to people who came to the country illegally devalued their own past struggles to gain citizenship. Some even felt it threatened their hard-won hold on the American Dream.”

While that may have been a revelation to the progressives at the Times, it will be unsurprising to those not imprisoned in the toxic confines of groupthink and identity politics. These foreign-born American citizens went through the long, arduous immigration process in a legal manner, understanding the importance of the rule of law in the and the way it allows this country — for all its real and perceived faults — to be a shining beacon for millions of people around the world.

Ms. Tavernise interviewed legal immigrants from China, El Salvador and India, and assuredly many others had compelling stories of their lawful trek to American citizenship. The Times reported that the objections stunned Democratic supporters and helped kill the bill in March. And a similar proposal for the whole state collapsed this month in the Maryland Senate, with some of the same immigrants speaking out against it.

The lesson to be learned here is that U.S. citizenship is meaningful and valuable. It’s unfortunate that the people who seem to understand this least are legislators, trading on policy in hopes of currying favor with leftists and immigrants who are here illegally — often at the expense of legal citizens.

All those legal immigrants in Howard County, Md., want is for others seeking citizenship to follow the rules, just as they did. No one should be surprised by that.

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