MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The state’s Democratic attorney general announced Wednesday that he has formed a task force to advise his office on the scope of its authority on immigration matters amid uncertainty about the federal government’s plans for refugees.
T.J. Donovan made the announcement at a Statehouse press conference as President Donald Trump is said to be reviewing proposals that would restrict the flow of refugees to the United States. It also comes as Vermont begins to welcome Syrian refugee families into the state.
It’s unclear what the state could do, if anything, if Trump issues an executive order that would halt Syrian refugees from coming to Vermont, Donovan said.
“We need to do our homework on this before we make promises, before we comment and give people a false sense of security about what may or may not happen,” he said. “Let’s get the facts and let’s figure out what role we have in an area that is mostly federal jurisdiction.”
Trump was expected to issue executive actions on immigration Wednesday, with steps to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, target sanctuary cities and potentially restrict the flow of refugees to the U.S., according to administration officials.
Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras has said up to 100 people from Syria and Iraq were expected to join the community by the end of September. Two families have recently arrived in the city.
He said Wednesday that he’s waiting to hear from Vermont’s congressional delegation about Trump’s possible refugee policy and what it could mean for Rutland.
Some communities in Vermont also want to become sanctuary cities and adopt policies that would protect immigrants in the country illegally.
Donovan said he has concerns about sanctuary cities because there’s not a legal status for such communities.
The topic is among a number the task force of about a dozen people will discuss. The task force will include lawyer Faisal Gill and former state Rep. Kesha Ram.
“The attorney general’s office is going to need help first digesting what’s going to be coming our way very quickly and then understanding what it means for Vermonters,” Ram said.
Donovan said he wants the information as soon as possible.
“Time is of the essence,” he said.