SANTA MAYOR NUTTER on Tuesday, without a hearty ho-ho-ho, gave an early Christmas present to law-abiding Philadelphians, who must have been nice this year. Unhappily, the gift seemed like a lump of coal to those dedicated to protecting

illegal

immigrants, including those foreigners who have been

convicted

of a crime.

The mayor reversed his 2014 executive order that had curtailed cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security.

I wish I could tell you Nutter acted because he finally realized that his retreat on illegal immigration over the years had put Philadelphians at risk, which it had. However, he said he was rolling back his executive order to fulfill a promise made to President Obama, who may have promised Nutter a bag of magic beans.

I do not know that. I don't know why he made the promise. I don't know why he would reverse an order he thought to be correct and fair. I also do not know why he waited until the waning days of his term, but let's be grateful for the gift.

I do know Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson praised the move, which he said would "prevent dangerous, removable criminals from being released to the streets."

That is the nub of the issue. Bookmark it. Under current rules of the Priority Enforcement Program, ICE is not interested in the garden variety undocumented person who has slipped into the United States. The only way those people might get deported is by committing a crime that brings them to ICE's attention.

Under PEP, ICE is trying to arrest, jail or deport those who have previous convictions. The city's insane former policy, now discarded, shielded these criminals from ICE. Sad to say, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney says he will restore the no-cooperation order and again put Philadelphians at risk. It's like he regards the federal government as the enemy.

Kenney has a long record of ignoring U.S. law to bed down with illegal immigrants. He publicly stated he will "protect" them. Protect them from what? From U.S. law and the U.S. government.

SMH. (For those over 40, that means Shaking My Head.)

Just so there is no misunderstanding, I welcome and treasure immigrants who come here legally, as my grandparents and Kenney's did. I am not in favor of those who willfully break our laws, crash our borders and then demand their "human rights."

Earlier in the month there was a touching story in the paper about an undocumented woman who was pulled out of a car by police for driving without a license, registration or insurance.

Please note despite the hysteria fanned by "immigrant" groups she was not arrested and deported on the spot. Her car was impounded and she was sent on her merry way, which somehow led to Kenney.

On a Saturday, he got her car registered and insured, he put it on his credit card and wailed that he couldn't get her a license because that's a state function and Pennsylvania won't and shouldn't license those here without documents.

Kenney reportedly extracted a promise from the woman that she would not drive the car.

I believe she will not drive that car. I also believe the Eagles will win the Super Bowl this year.

While Kenney was busy helping a woman who had broken several laws and put tax-paying Philadelphians at risk (by driving uninsured), nasty old ICE was rounding up and deporting from the Philadelphia area 17 foreign criminal gems.

These included a Mexican with a California burglary conviction, several Mexicans with DUI convictions (and, of course, they were driving without licenses), a Liberian with convictions for burglary and theft, an El Salvadoran convicted of two counts of sexual assault, a Lebanese with convictions for bank fraud and forgery and a Haitian for having an unlicensed gun.

It's a regular United Nations of crime.

In June, the Boston Globe reported "hundreds of immigrants convicted of sex crimes who should have been deported" were released instead.

Charming.

For the record, documented immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native born, and even those here illegally commit fewer crimes than the native born. But they do commit crimes, some very serious, such as the murder of San Franciscan Kathryn Steinle. The accused perpetrator, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is an undocumented man who had been deported five times and returned. He had seven felony convictions and yet was released by San Francisco, which is a sanctuary city, like Philadelphia. The same thing could happen here.

Erika Almiron, director of Juntos, an organization that coddles those here illegally, called Nutter's revision a "dragnet program."

Nutter calmly replied this had nothing to do with dragnets, these were people already in custody, either convicted or awaiting trial.

When groups such as Juntos scream about non-existing dragnets, they create irrational fear in their own communities that "the feds are coming for you." They are not.

Groups like Juntos don't care that these convicted criminals would be released to their neighborhoods where they would victimize their own people. Murderers, thieves and rapists usually victimize their own kind.

This isn't good for legal immigrants, who have nothing to fear from the government, and it's not good for the rest of us. Cooperation with the feds is law - the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.

I hope it won't take the murder of an innocent for Kenney to understand his first job is public safety, not protecting convicted foreign criminals from deportation.

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

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