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Kentucky Elected Officials Mostly Quiet On Immigration Ban


Days after President Donald Trump’s executive order relating to immigration and refugees, Kentucky’s elected officials are mostly silent on the issue.

Gov. Matt Bevin, Rep. Hal Rogers, Rep. Andy Barr, Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Brett Guthrie and Rep. James Comer haven’t responded to repeated requests for comment.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s press office declined to respond to an inquiry, pointing instead to his appearance on ABC’s This Week.

“The president has a lot of latitude to try to secure the country. And I’m not going to make a blanket criticism of this effort,” McConnell said. “However, I think it’s important to remember, as I said, that a lot of Muslims are our best sources in the war against terror.”

McConnell also said the issue would “ultimately be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone “too far” and that “we don’t have religious tests in this country.”

Trump issued the executive order Friday evening barring refugees from all countries for 120 days. He also indefinitely banned refugees from Syria and issued a 90-day ban on the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

When asked what Sen. Rand Paul thought of Trump’s immigration bans, spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said in an email that “Senator Paul ran for office pledging to secure our borders, and he is committed to working with the President and his colleagues to do so.”

In 2015, Paul proposed a bill that would have suspended visas for people coming from “countries with a high risk of terrorism.”

Paul’s Democratic opponent in his reelection campaign last year, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Tweeted out a response to Trump’s orders, saying they “have created unnecessary anxiety and unrest.”

“America is a nation of immigrants, and all of our people make our country great,” Gray wrote. “In Lexington, we will continue welcoming everyone who moves here, from near or far, regardless of religion or nationality.”

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, attended a rally at Louisville’s Turkish American Friendship Center, saying he was ashamed of the country and disgusted by the president.

“I’m disgusted not only by his insensitivity and his immorality and by his absolute lack of knowledge and understanding and his unwillingness to learn,” Yarmuth said. “I’m going to confront my colleagues who are not willing to speak out against this. In some cases people who spoke out about it six months ago or three months ago or a year ago and said this was un-American and now they’re saying ‘oh it’s my president I can’t do that.’ That’s bullshit.”

In December 2015, then-candidate Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

McConnell called that proposal “completely and totally inconsistent with American values.”

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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