Alaska congressional delegation rejects Trump's plan for Muslims

WASHINGTON -- Members of Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation say they do not support temporarily barring all Muslims from entering the United States, as suggested this week by the party's presidential front-runner, Donald Trump.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young in written statements Friday denounced Trump's proposal with varying levels of specificity.

In a statement relayed by a press secretary, Young said simply, "I do not support the plan."

"We are a country that was founded on religious freedom and these comments don't reflect American values," Murkowski said in a written statement. "I am focused on revisiting our border control screens and how we vet those entering our country to ensure that terrorists don't inadvertently slip through."

And Sullivan's press secretary Mike Anderson said in an email that "Senator Sullivan does not support Mr. Trump's plan. While he understands that we must aggressively fight against radical Islam, we cannot sacrifice our country's founding principles."

Trump's proposal has drawn more criticism from within the GOP, including from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Others, including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have supported Trump's rhetoric.

Action in the House of Representatives this week focused on adding more security to programs that allow visitors to enter the United States.


With Young's support, the House passed a bill aimed at increasing security checks for people from countries that are part of the "visa waiver" program, such as France, where citizens do not have to obtain a visa to enter the United States. The bill passed by a vote of 407-19 but has not yet reached the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Sullivan and Young have also taken to social media this week to denounce talks of stricter gun control as a response to mass killings.

"On the heels of the horrific acts of terrorism in Paris and in California, Alaskans have understandably been concerned for the safety of their families," Sullivan said Tuesday on Facebook. But he denounced efforts to tie terrorist attacks to the need for new gun control measures.

"Let me be clear: Conflating gun control with our fight against terrorism is a tactic that just won't work. Greater gun control would not have stopped the attack in California, which already has the strictest gun control laws in the nation," he said, calling for a broader strategy to keep ISIS from recruiting new followers in the U.S.

"It is vitally important that we never forget that what makes the United States the hope and inspiration of the world is our fidelity to our Constitution, which contains the right to bear arms, as well as the freedom of religion," Sullivan said.

Young also spoke up on Facebook, arguing against further gun control.

"FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under the current system, law enforcement is notified every time a person on the no-fly list attempts to buy a firearm. If terrorists are really buying guns legally and walking the streets with them, why haven't they been arrested?" Young asked.

The White House and some in Congress have supported barring anyone on the "no-fly list" from purchasing firearms.

"This watch list is not a vetted list of bad guys. How you get on and how you get off is unclear. A paperwork error can get you on the list. A name similar to your own can get you on the list. There are many ways for mistakes or abuses to occur, resulting in Americans having their 2nd Amendment rights taken away," Young wrote.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.