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Herbert: 'Little bit of hyperbole' in Trump's immigration rhetoric

Herbert: 'Little bit of hyperbole' in Trump's immigration rhetoric

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY— Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday there may be "a little bit of hyperbole" in President-elect Donald Trump's stand on immigration and offered assurances that Utah will continue its humane policies.

"I don't know what he is actually going to do, so we should maybe not presuppose the outcome there," the governor told reporters after being asked about fears among immigrants and refugees in Utah after Trump's election Tuesday.

There have been reports of Latino students being harassed at school, as well as many people saying they're scared about what the new president's pledge to deport immigrants in the country illegally means to them and their families.

Trump has also called for “a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States, and made his promise to build a massive wall along the country's border with Mexico the centerpiece of his campaign.

But Herbert said it remains to be seen what will happen when the billionaire businessman and fellow Republican takes office in January.

"I know the rhetoric has been a little bit shrill, based on some of the comments that we've heard in the past. But I've also talked with (Vice President-elect) Mike Pence, and I think some of that is a little bit of hyperbole," he said. "I hope so."

Herbert, the only Republican governor in the country willing to take in Syrian refugees, said the state will continue to deal with immigration issues "in a humane way." even though it's the federal government's responsibility.

"Utah's position will not change with regard to treating people as human beings with respect and dignity, no matter what their situation may be in life," Herbert said. "We've tried in a humane way to address that here in the state."

The governor declined to say Thursday whom he voted for in the presidential race. He never formally endorsed Trump but had announced he would vote for his party's presidential ticket.

That changed after a 2005 video surfaced of Trump talking in graphic terms about making sexual advances toward women. Herbert was one of the first GOP leaders in the country to say he was no longer voting for Trump.

Still, the governor said, that should not affect Utah's relationship with the new president.

"I think the president-elect is going to want to work close with the states, and I want him to do that. We have the ability to help him," Herbert said. "There should be no impediment for our ability to work together with this administration."

Trump's first priority should be healing the divide left by a contentious election, the governor said.

"We all see with the election, as close as it was, as divisive as it was and as unpopular as our two nominees were, that there is a lot of work to bring us together," he said.

Herbert said Trump recognizes the challenge.

"I believe Mr. Trump is going to reach out to all people and say, 'What can we do together?' Because he really needs to. … He's got to lead this charge," the governor said.

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