Olens: Governor Deal Cannot Block Syrian Refugee Resettlement

Following the November terrorist attack in Paris, Governor Deal issued an executive order that was intended to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia. In an interview with reporters earlier this month, Deal indicated he might file a lawsuit against the feds to prevent Syrian resettlement, and would order a defense by the state against any federal lawsuit arising from the state’s unwillingness to aid in the resettlement process.

However, Governor Deal also asked Attorney General Sam Olens to issue an opinion on whether Syrian refugee resettlement could be blocked. That opinion was issued today. In it, Olens said that blocking refugees from a specific country was not permissible under the law:

Essentially, and to the extent it is read most broadly, the scope of the executive order is limited by two things: (1) federal law and the Supremacy Clause and (2) the terms of its voluntary agreement with the federal government to participate in, and accept federal funding relating to, the Refugee Resettlement Program. I am 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.

In his opinion, Olens indicated he shared the governor’s concerns, and hoped that the federal government would do its best to scrutinize incoming refugees.

[T]he executive order responds to serious concerns about recent terrorist attacks linked to the ongoing conflict in Syria, concerns that legitimately extend to the current federal process for reviewing and accepting refugees from Syria into the United States and, more specifically, into the State of Georgia. I share those concerns and similarly hope that the federal government will take all necessary and appropriate steps to assure that all refugees, regardless of country of origin, be carefully scrutinized to ensure the safety of our citizens.

The governor’s office is reviewing Olens’s opinion.


    • zedsmith says:

      She believes that the country was founded on the principals of Judeo-Christian ethics, but she doesn’t bat an eye advocating slamming the door on the refugees from a conflict that our own country made possible by destabilizing Iraq?

      I know its too much to ask Rubes to read a textbook, but surely they’ll study their Bibles, right?


      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Dear Zedsmith: The middle east wars are about oil and nothing more.
        The politicans and their donors are the reason we are there. Our Country is helpless to stop them.
        President Obama ran on this issue and many voted for him for this one issue only.
        America needs to stop watching cable TV.

  1. Dave Bearse says:

    Olens is playing with fire with a GOP base that established it will cut off its nose to spite immigration changes.

    • Jon Richards says:

      Are you suggesting that Olens should tailor his legal opinions to fit the desires of the GOP base? Yes, he’s a politician, yes, he’s been mentioned as a possible contender for the Governor’s office in 2018, but I think we’re getting into dangerous territory when the Attorney General’s office starts to mix politics with the law.

  2. seekingtounderstand says:

    We just have too many layers of government with each pointing their finger at the other. Why even have state government anymore? All they do is collect taxes. The GBI has been gutted along with other state security measures.
    Would love to see the press ask Olens if pointing a finger at Obama is worth more then the lives of all people of Georgia.

    • John Konop says:

      AG Olens job is to uphold the current laws, not create new laws. The job of creating new laws comes from the congress. This is a fairly basic concept taught in schools about the balance of powers. If you do not like the laws than elect people, and or advocate for change. Yelling at AG Sam for doing his job is ridiculous.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        John: We are kinda pass the balance of powers. Guess you missed out on the last few years. The new law taking passports from people who have IRS tax liens and a record year of new regulations shows no balance or restraint of powers.

        • John Konop says:

          We have seen an abuse of executive order by the president increasing….I made the point about W Bush when he was in office, that we cannot have a system that pushes this balance agree or not with policy.As soon as your guy does not get ellected you will both sides flip flop. In fairness much of it comes from the congress, no matter what party is in control, it is all about unwillingness to act by congress….look at this Middle East conflict….congress for over 12 years has not taking the tough vote….With that said 2 wrongs do not make a right. That logic of ends justifies the means is how we got into this over use of power by the executive branch. Once again we cannot jump on AG Olens for playing by the rules. We need more like him willing to up hold the laws agree or not…..and force congress to act….

  3. seekingtounderstand says:

    Dear Georgia Citizens: After 9/11, I called Congressman Deals congressional office as a concerned mother about the safety of our schools. At the time there where threats against blowing up a school. I was shocked when Congressman Deal actually took my call and gave me some insight as too how much we have on the ready if needed.
    No one can prevent a bad thing from happening if bad people want to do it.
    Governor Deal is a good person and his experience with Washington politics is very valuable.

    • Andrew C. Pope says:

      “Governor Deal is a good person…”

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha *deep breath* hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  4. saltycracker says:

    I dunno about widespread GOP backlash. Deal played his role, Olens played his and we dance to the tune of taking the money. Olens could win some points by recognizing the risks, fully investigate any criminal activities with no free passes on the possiblity of charges for the sponsors, church or charity.

  5. Ed says:

    “the scope of the executive order is limited by two things”

    Legal understatement of the year.

    Also, Gov. Deal can say he doesn’t care about the Constitution if he’s still going to “review” Olens’ opinion.

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