Welch Plans To Fight Trump's Immigration Orders In Washington

Jan 30, 2017

After legal advocates and citizen activists showed strong opposition over the weekend to President Trump's executive orders on immigration and refugees, Vermont's elected officials got to work Monday morning outlining actions they plan to take.

In Burlington Monday morning, Congressman Peter Welch said in no uncertain terms that he plans to fight Trump's executive orders in Washington.

"I'm going to be working with my colleagues to introduce legislation that would one, overturn this executive order; number two: to defund the executive order; and three, to reinstate the special immigration visas from these countries, particularly Iraq, who have served our United States military and as a result of that are in harm's way," Welch said.

Welch said he thinks the ban is unconstitutional, but he also added that debating the constitutionality of Trump's actions ignores the fact that they're just wrong.

"You don't have to be a constitutional lawyer to be appalled at the notion that your neighbor sitting here, and your neighbor sitting here – a 5-year-old boy here, a 6-year-old girl here – the Christians yes, the Muslims no,” Welch said. “That's just not right, and we don't have to have a constitutional debate to say, ‘President Trump: No way. Don't do that.’"

Welch also made it clear that even as White House officials try to paint the immigration orders as a national security measure, the policies enacted last week discriminate against Muslims.

"We don't have to have a constitutional debate to say, 'President Trump: No way. Don't do that.'" - Rep. Peter Welch

"Number one: [A ban on Muslims is] what he called for in the campaign. Number two: What he said is, preference goes to Christians. Number three: He's cut in half the number of refugees that were authorized to come in," Welch said.

Speaking to a crowd of business leaders at a luncheon at a Rutland steakhouse later in the day, Gov. Phil Scott also condemned Trump's executive orders.

"I can't imagine what Vermont would look like today had we refused to allow immigrants from all reaches of the world to experience this wonderful country,” Scott said. “As I have said, I'm going to do everything I can — everything I have the power to do — to protect the rights of all Vermonters and the human rights of all people."

But Scott didn't offer specifics about what he can and will do, or when. He also stopped short of saying Trump's actions discriminate against Muslims. 

"I'm going to do everything I can — everything I have the power to do — to protect the rights of all Vermonters and the human rights of all people." — Gov. Phil Scott

"Whether you're Muslim or Christian, it doesn't matter, and we have an obligation to help,” Scott said. “We have a moral obligation to do so. So regardless of the reasoning, I just think it's wrong."

Scott said his team was working on vetting the state's options for challenging Trump's orders, and they'll announce their plan this week.

Update 10:44 p.m. Gov. Scott announced the details of his plans to defy Trump's immigration orders Monday evening. The headline of this story has been edited to remove a reference to Scott's plan being unclear.