By Walter Jones –
ATLANTA – Federal officials displeased about Georgia’s denial of government benefits to Syrian refugees are welcome to sue the state, Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters Friday.
The former judge said he is eager for the state to make its case in court.
“We’re ready to defend it if we have to. I would rather not spend taxpayers’ money defending something that could be avoided,” he said.
He issued an executive order after Islamic extremists attacked Paris last month instructing state agencies to accept no more applications for government benefits from Syrian natives.
Nearly 60 have already been settled in Georgia, and those will still be eligible for benefits.
Deal, like most governors around the country, opposes being forced by the federal government to host the refugees because of the public’s fear that Islamic terrorists could slip in among them. President Barack Obama has said the United States will accept 10,000 refugees as part of a long-standing State Department resettlement program.
The Obama administration contends governors have no authority to turn away refugees. And it has refused the governors’ demands to be informed on who they are and where they will be living as a measure of homeland security.
Deal complained that the state only has one way of learning their whereabouts.
“It’s it ironic that the federal government doesn’t see fit to tell the state of Georgia, doesn’t see fit to tell our homeland security official, who these people are and where they are,” he said. “The only way we know they are actually here is when they show up and apply for food stamps.”
Not only does the Obama administration maintain states much house refugees, it also asserts they must issue them welfare benefits like Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
A feisty Deal is pushing back.
“I’ve already told them if they don’t like the way we administer the SNAP program, the food stamp program – -it’s their program – if they don’t like the way we do it, let them come run it,” he said. “We’ll hand it over to them.”
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