Georgia's Repeal On Refugee Ban Shows Fearmongers Will Not Win

by
Cierra Bailey
Georgia's governor was forced to overturn his "ban" against Syrian refugees upon learning the state cannot legally resist the federal government's refugee resettlement program.

It looks like the score is currently 1 for Syrian refugees and 0 for right-wing fearmongers trying to ban them.

The state of Georgia — one of the many states that threatened to ban refugees from entering its borders following the November, 2015 Paris attacks — has overturned an executive order that halted the state's acceptance of refugees and made it nearly impossible for them to receive government assistance, such as food stamps. 

It wasn’t a change of heart that prompted Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA) to repeal his executive order, but Attorney General Sam Olens’ formal opinion that Georgia cannot legally resist the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

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Although Deal has been very vocal about defending his stance against the federal government to keep refugees out of Georgia, he didn't have much of a leg to stand on following Olens’ cut-and-dried formal opinion.

The attorney general wrote he is “unaware of any law or agreement that would permit a state to carve out refugees from particular countries from participation in the refugee resettlement program, no matter how well-intended or justified the desire to carve out such refugees might be.”

“Accordingly, it is my official opinion that both federal law and the State’s agreement to act as the state refugee resettlement coordinator prevent the State from denying federally-funded benefits to Syrian refugees lawfully admitted into the United States,” he wrote.

Read More: Rejecting Refugees Is Exactly What ISIS Wants 

Olens’ opinion is important for more than one reason. Although he can explicitly only speak on behalf of the state of Georgia, he said he was unaware of ANY law or agreement that would permit A STATE to carve out refugees from participating in the resettlement program, meaning that the other states making promises to ban refugees will likely suffer the same fate as Georgia thus being forced to bite the bullet and accept refugees.

Essentially, state governments are powerless to stop the federal government’s resettlement program for refugees legally entering the United States, so all of their threats and “executive orders” are just unlawful, fearmongering stunts. 

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