One day after the release of a statement on President Donald Trump’s immigration order, Governor Charlie Baker said that the way that the executive order and subsequent travel ban were issued was as problematic as the order itself. “You can’t separate the way it was done from the intent of the rule, okay? You just can’t. I would argue the way it was done creates a ton of confusion and chaos,” Baker said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Monday. “For me, I don’t think I can separate one from the other.”
When asked by host Margery Eagan if he agreed with a temporary travel ban for seven countries, including a temporary indefinite ban for Syria, Baker said, “The big issue for me is the way this has all been handled, in addition to the materiality of the question that’s involved,” he said. ”It’s partly what you say, it’s also how you say it, and it’s also how you do it. Presidents, at various times, over the course of a lot of years, Republican and and Democrat, have temporarily put in place, travel bans. That is not unheard of. But for the most part, they did it in a very different way, and established a framework around it, processed it before they did it, everybody understood what it was about and why. Part of the issue here is the impact associated with the delivery on this one and the way it got implemented.”
Baker's absence at protests throughout the week was criticized by protesters at both the Boston Women's March for America and a rally Sunday in Copley Square, where a crowd chanted, "where's Charlie Baker?" During the Women's March, Baker said he had been caught up in meetings, and had a funeral to attend Sunday. "People have a right to peaceably assemble and protest and make their voices heard, and one of our fundamental jobs... is to make sure that they’re safe." Baker said.
Baker, who has said he opposes any sort of religious test for visas, emphasized the importance of establishing relationships with the Trump administration in order to maintain federal funding for the state. “I made my views clear on Donald Trump as a candidate, I made my views clear a number of times on issues that have taken place since he took office, and I’ll continue to do that. But I also have a job to do, and the job I have to do is to represent the state’s interest every day around federal policy that has tremendous import to Massachusetts,” Baker said. “I have a $52 billion waiver to support the Masshealth program that was approved just prior to the election by the Obama administration. We have a $1 billion Green Line Extension that is currently sitting before the federal transportation administration...That’s going to continue to be the way I do my job—which is to represent our interests, make sure everybody who wants to engage in public dialogue and in rallies and protests can do so recognizing and understanding that this will be a safe and welcoming place to do that, and that we will support people’s rights to do that. I have to also make sure that we represent our interests strategically and forcefully in Washington, with Washington, where we have tremendous interests.”
Baker said his office will put together a brief regarding concerns about the immigration executive order, with strategy in mind. “We believe we need to comment on [the order], but have to comment on in a way that gives us some ability to believe that we may be able to move the conversation,” Baker said. “That’s going to continue to be the way I do my job—which is to represent our interests, make sure everybody who wants to engage in public dialogue and in rallies and protests can do so recognizing and understanding that this will be a safe and welcoming place to do that, and that we will support people’s rights to do that. I have to also make sure that we represent our interests strategically and forcefully in Washington, with Washington, where we have tremendous interests.”