Republican Governor Charlie Baker opposes the immigrant ban President Trump has imposed on migrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern and North African nations, Baker aides said Saturday.
“Governor Baker opposes applying religious tests to the refugee system and believes that focusing on countries’ predominant religions will not make the US any safer, as terrorists have demonstrated a determination to strike from all corners of the world,” spokesman Brendan Moss wrote in an e-mail.
“Instead, Governor Baker believes the federal government should focus on improving the techniques and systems in place to stop dangerous people from entering the country, regardless of the nation they seek to strike from,” he added.
Nationally, Republicans have been largely quiet since Trump signed the executive order on Friday. But Baker is one of many elected officials in Massachusetts who stated their opposition to Trump’s order, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh, US Representative Seth Moulton, and US senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren.
The ban, which explicitly forbids refugees from war-ravaged Syria from entering the United States, has also reportedly affected longtime residents, many of whom are green card holders effectively blocked from returning to the country.
“There are people around the world who have nothing to do with ISIS, and he’s trying to make them all the same,” Walsh said in a telephone interview Saturday evening.
Walsh, who held a defiant and emotional press conference last week during which he promised to use City Hall to house undocumented immigrants sought by federal immigration officials, charged Trump with ignorance of the nuances of geopolitics and terrorism.
The first-term Dorchester Democrat said he has had several conversations in recent days with other Democratic big-city mayors about a host of issues — including immigration, health care, and climate change — and they shared concern over Trump’s actions.
“What he’s doing potentially could have drastic, lasting impacts on the American economy, and by extension the Massachusetts economy,” Walsh said.
Moulton, a Salem Democrat and decorated Marine veteran of the Iraq War, said the ban extends to foreign nationals who have aided US forces in war zones. He said “a lot more Marines that I served with would have died” without assistance from Iraqi translators and intelligence sources.
“They kept us from being killed and they helped us find our enemies,” Moulton said during a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “These are people who have put their lives on the line for not just their countries but ours. The least we owe them is a chance to keep on living.”
“Frankly, it’s a pretty dangerous situation,” said Moulton, an outspoken Trump critic who likened the president’s campaign to Adolf Hitler’s rise. “What Americans need to realize is that this absolutely puts out national security and our troops on the front line in danger.”
Moulton said one of his own Iraqi translators, from Najaf, just moved to the United States “a month or two ago. Thank God he got here before Trump got into office.”
Moulton, who served under General James Mattis when the latter commanded the First Marine Division in Iraq, backed his nomination to become Trump’s defense secretary. But the congressman said he was “shocked” that Mattis stood alongside Trump as the president signed the executive order on Friday.
Moulton said he was confident that Mattis privately opposes the measure. “But General Mattis knows better” than to lend his tacit approval by appearing at the signing, he said.
She also noted that Friday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a reminder of what can happen when people remain silent.
“Turning our back on refugees because of their religion creates recruiting fodder for ISIS and other terrorist groups,” Warren wrote.
Markey said on Twitter Saturday afternoon that he will fight Trump’s “immoral Muslim ban” that could affect the Bay State.
Massachusetts “thrives from the diversity of our immigrant community — in universities, business, and workforce,” he wrote. “Isolation harms our economy and families.”
Baker’s opposition to the order is far from his first break with Trump. In December 2015, after Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the country, Baker swiped at him.
“I think that’s ridiculous, and I would never support a policy like that,” he told reporters at the time. “I have no idea what the motivation is on that. First of all, it’s unrealistic. Secondly, it’s inappropriate. And third, it doesn’t make any sense.”