Olens, Deal face Showdown on Refugee Issue

| December 8, 2015


Atlanta Journal Constitution

ATLANTA — A rift has opened among Republican leaders over Georgia’s policy to oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees, as the state hurtles toward a likely legal showdown over the policy.
Deal and the state’s top lawyer, Republican Attorney General Sam Olens, appear to be at odds over the legality of the governor’s executive order that directed state agencies to halt involvement in resettling Syrian refugees.

The rift is significant because, in the face of a federal threat of a legal challenge, the Deal administration has doubled down on its decision to withhold state food stamp benefits for newly arrived refugees from the war-torn nation. And it will fall to Olens to defend the policy in court.

In an email obtained through a public records request, Olens wrote to a Deal deputy on Friday that Georgia’s response to the federal threat of a lawsuit over the policy “is not well supported in the law.” Olens added that he’s hopeful “every effort is made to resolve this matter without resort to litigation.”

Deal responded on Monday by requesting a formal opinion from Olens on the legality of the executive order, which polls show has broad support among Republican voters. Olens declined to comment on Monday.

The tiff is a snapshot of Deal’s increasingly critical approach to the White House’s plan to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees nationwide since the string of terror attacks in Paris.

He has vowed that the state will vigorously defend his stance in court and bristled at the White House’s demand in November that Georgia rescind the order or risk violating federal law by denying food stamp benefits to new Syrian refugees.

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1 Comment on "Olens, Deal face Showdown on Refugee Issue"

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  1. Deal is a bad joke..thanks repubs.