- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott says the state will not work with federal authorities to carry out border security and immigration enforcement orders as suggested by recent executive orders signed by President Donald Trump.

In a statement issued late Monday, Scott also said he would ask the Legislature to pass laws that would prohibit local officials from carrying out such actions.

“I believe these executive orders extend beyond the concerns we all have for preventing foreign terrorists from entering the country and reducing illegal immigration,” Scott said. “These orders have the potential to erode civil liberties and states’ rights that we are all afforded by the Constitution.”

Scott’s position came in the aftermath Trump’s executive orders on refugees and immigration, which suspended entry by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations. Trump has said the order, which has sparked protests across the country, is intended to protect the country from terrorism.

As part of his opposition Scott, in a deep blue state where both chambers of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats, said he plans to convene a Civil Rights and Justice Cabinet. The panel would include some members of his cabinet, lawmakers, law enforcement representatives and others who will further review the president’s executive orders.

He also is asking his legal counsel to coordinate with Attorney General offices in Vermont and other states to determine the constitutionality of the president’s executive orders.

Democratic state Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said Tuesday that Scott’s action defying the White House is consistent with his long-held views

“I’ve known Phil for eight years and we’ve always known him to be someone who is independent thinking who, when it’s a matter of principle, stands apart from his party on an as-needed basis,” Ashe said. “We also believe he has been a very compassionate person.”

Scott said the Republican president’s executive orders have the potential to erode civil liberties and states’ rights. He said they go “beyond the concerns we all have” for preventing terrorism and reducing illegal immigration.

He said Vermont will continue to uphold state and federal laws, but the state won’t take any action that “violates constitutional rights or infringes upon the rights of Vermont as a sovereign state.”

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