Biographer: Gov. Atiyeh would have opposed travel ban

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s most recent Republican governor Victor Atiyeh would have opposed President Trump’s executive order to ban immigrants and refugees from seven countries, according to the governor’s biographer Jim Moore.

The son of Middle Eastern immigrants, Governor Atiyeh served as Oregon’s governor from 1979 to 1987. As a member of the minority Republican party, he became known for his ability to reach across the aisle to make economic progress.

At the governor’s request, Moore began writing Governor Atiyeh’s biography. The two got to know each other very well before Atiyeh died in 2014.

“He grew up in kind of a mini United Nations,” Moore said. “It wasn’t just his own immigrant experience, he saw this in the other kids around him, and yes, he was very protective of it.”

Moore told KOIN 6 News even though Atiyeh was America’s first Arab-American governor, his candidacy and governorship was built around the idea that he was purely an American.

Despite his Republican ties, Moore said he believes Governor Atiyeh would have opposed President Trump’s travel ban if he were alive today.

“He’d look around and say ‘Look at the danger in our society, most of it comes from those we consider to be American,'” Moore said. “Vic Atiyeh would have stood up and said ‘You’re wrong, you have to let refuges come in, because that’s where we all came from.’ There’s no doubt in my mind that that’s what he would have said.”

Before his death, Governor Atiyeh also maintained a friendship with Oregon State Representative Julie Parrish, who is also a Republican whose father is a Middle Eastern immigrant.

On Friday, after President Trump’s travel bans were announced, Parrish posted a photo of Governor Atiyeh on Facebook.

“Oregon’s best-ever Governor in my lifetime was the son of Syrian immigrants,” the post said. “As a military spouse, I can appreciate we have a need to modernize our immigration and refugee policies to better screen for terror threats. But we should be cautious about the wholesale abandonment of those who would otherwise come to us seeking relief from persecution and oppression in the pursuit of freedom. It’s the most fundamental principle of our nation.”

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