Walker criticizes Trump’s handling of refugee issue

Gov. Bill Walker delivers his State of the State Address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. Behind him, left to right, are Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham. (Photo: Skip Gray/360 North)

Gov. Bill Walker criticized President Donald Trump’s order that halted immigration from seven heavily Muslim countries, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and temporarily banned all other refugees.

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During Tuesday’s Talk of Alaska, Walker said his experience in local government taught him to focus on the process used to reach decisions. He said the Trump administration didn’t appropriately handle the process for issuing the order.

“I think that changes of this magnitude — to not be done without any sort of process involved — I think it catches people off-guard,” Walker said. “I think it frightens people … because some things just aren’t well thought out. And, so, I think this is one of them.”

Walker noted that diversity is an important issue in the state, which by one measure has 19 of the 20 most diverse elementary schools in the country.

“I didn’t join the efforts to close our borders, because I don’t follow the crowd,” Walker said. “I do what I think is best for Alaska. So I look at everything that happens in Washington through my Alaska lens, and see how it impacts Alaska.”

Walker noted he decided against joining 30 other governors in 2015 when they asked then-President Barack Obama to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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