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Governor Phil Scott Details Response to Federal Executive Orders

January 30, 2017

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced a series of steps his Administration is taking to protect the rights of all Vermonters, following executive orders from President Trump relating to immigration and refugee resettlement.

“As Governor, I will stand up for the rights and civil liberties of all those in our State, and the rights of the State of Vermont,” Gov. Scott said. “Vermont will continue to uphold the laws of our State and nation, but we will not be forced to take any action that we believe violates Constitutional rights, or infringes upon the rights of Vermont as a sovereign state. We are a nation of United States – a constitutional republic made up of individually governed states empowering three equal branches of government to act on our behalf – not one nation-state governed exclusively by a President.”

Governor Scott said his Administration – in conjunction and consultation with partners across State and local government and Vermont’s Congressional delegation – are pursuing the following action steps to ensure the State is doing its part to defend and protect the Constitution, and the civil rights and safety of all Vermonters:

1. The Governor has directed his legal counsel to coordinate with the Vermont Attorney General’s office – and other states – to assess the constitutionality of the executive orders, specifically the impact of the broad policy proclamations contained in the border security and immigration enforcement orders on the Fourth and Tenth Amendments, for the purpose of exploring a legal challenge to the orders. 

2. The Governor will immediately convene a Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Cabinet, charged with further review of the Executive Orders. The Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Cabinet will identify areas that are not in compliance with current state or Constitutional law and make recommendations to the Governor. This Cabinet will include the Governor’s legal counsel, Secretary of Human Services, Secretary of Agriculture, Commissioner of Public Safety, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Senate Pro Tem, House Speaker, State’s Attorneys Office Executive Director, Defender General, a mayor designated by the Vermont Mayor’s Coalition, and representative leaders from the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police, and Vermont Sheriffs’ Association.

3. The Governor will elect not to enter the agreements suggested under the border security and immigration enforcement orders, which ask Governors and local officials to carry out immigration enforcement functions. Further, he will seek legislation and support from lawmakers to prohibit local officials from entering such agreements with the Federal government. This action will not prohibit law enforcement officers’ ability to uphold the law, but it will ensure they are not carrying out additional actions under the executive order that may ultimately be deemed unconstitutional or infringe on the rights of Vermonters or the rights of Vermont as a sovereign State. 

4. The Administration is reaching out to the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security for further clarification on each of these orders, and how they relate to Vermont’s sizable refugee and immigrant populations.

5. The Administration is coordinating with refugee program administrators and stakeholders within impacted industries to keep them informed on its efforts, address concerns, and communicate impact.

“I believe these executive orders extend beyond the concerns we all have for preventing foreign terrorists from entering the country and reducing illegal immigration,” added Gov. Scott “These orders have the potential to erode civil liberties and states’ rights that we are all afforded by the Constitution. I will continue to work with state and federal partners to protect our state’s values, and to uphold legal, ethical and moral standards – and the Constitutional rights and liberties – that have distinguished America from the rest of the world for generations.”