By Lou Varricchio / April 7, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Republican Gov. Phil Scott said he would consider deporting some criminal aliens residing in Vermont illegally.

The statement represents a modest change in the governor’s approach to illegal immigration, which has been at odds with the Trump administration’s policy and executive orders.

Scott expressed concerns about illegal aliens convicted of violent crime and DUIs, saying they represent a potential threat to the safety of other residents. However, Scott was unable to provide either a clear definition of what justifies an illegal immigrant’s deportation or the number of alien residents that should be deported.

“If you’re convicted of criminal activity, I think you should be deported,” Scott said. “[But] I will clarify… [I am speaking of] egregious crimes.”

On March 28, Scott signed into law S.79 , a bill crafted to shield illegal immigrants from “compulsory collection of personally identifying information, or dissemination of that information for purposes of establishing a mandatory federal registry or database.”

Immigration experts have told Watchdog that concealing data about illegal immigrants could cause Vermont to lose federal dollars it receives to support a variety of programs, including law enforcement.

Rebecca Kelley, the governor’s communications director, told Vermont Watchdog that “our understanding is that our state policies are compliant with federal law and, therefore, there would not be a justification for withholding federal funds.”

Vermont Watchdog has reported that among the characteristics the state wants hidden from federal immigration enforcement officers are immigration status, national origin, religion, race and color. But, following Scott’s statement on Thursday, it is uncertain how deportation in Vermont can occur without some state officials revealing the status of criminal immigrants in contradiction to the spirit of S.79.