Walker speaks out for first time on president’s refugee ban
In Juneau, a group of protesters Monday morning pressed Gov. Bill Walker to speak out on President Donald Trump’s executive order, which temporarily bans refugees from seven countries from entering the U.S.
Organizers collected more than 100 signatures on a letter to the Walker, urging him to break his silence on the issue. Speaking for the first time publicly since the order was issued Friday, Walker said he is concerned about how the ban might affect Alaskans, adding that he is consulting with the Alaska attorney general on what, if anything, the state should do.
“We’ll look at that and see what needs to be done if anything,” he said. “I’m not aware of any requests we’ve gotten on the federal side to participate in anything that they’re doing, so we’ll take a look at it and it’s under review right now.”
Walker’s response may not have been the strong statement the crowd had hoped for.
“The letter we have to the governor asks them to raise their voices in defense of our values, our constitution and laws because Alaskans are brave and we’re not going to let this trample our values,” said Dan Kirkwood, a resident of Juneau who helped organize the protest Monday.
Kerri Willoughby, who attended after dropping her son off at school, agreed.
“It’s not what our country stands for, it’s not what I stand for,” she said. “I feel like it’s an important time to stand up for what you believe in.”
In the halls of the capitol building, the lines between the two parties are being drawn.
“The president is right that we should keep unsafe people out, but he is wrong that we should keep safe people out,” said Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage. “People who have worked with the American military he’s banning, people who have been vetted he’s banning, and it was sloppy and we can’t do sound bite politics.”
Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, told reporters at a press conference Monday that he supports Trump’s order.
“It’s a pretty limited restriction on immigration, it’s not in our purview, but that’s my opinion is that it’s pretty limited,” Kelly said. “We’re a sovereign nation, if we can’t determine who comes into our country, based on terrorist activity and those things that are a threat to our national security we’ve got bigger problems than we thought we did.”
Lawmakers aren’t pushing for action from the state one way or another.
A spokesperson for Alaska’s attorney general said the Department of Law is still reviewing the president’s executive order.
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