Deal tones down his language on immigrant children

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After meeting with a group of Latino community leaders Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal moderated some of the strong comments he made last week about the movement of more than 1,100 immigrant children to sponsored homes in Georgia.

“I made this pledge to the group: As a state we will let the federal process work,” Deal said. “And during the time it takes to accomplish that, I’m sure Georgians will show their compassion toward these children who have undergone harrowing circumstances.”

“Certainly, we all want these children to stay in homes where they are safe and provided for while they are awaiting their immigration hearings before a federal judge,” Deal said.

The governor’s response to the meeting with Latino activists was more moderate than the stance he took in a letter to President Barack Obama last week.

Deal’s letter complained about the movement of 1,154 immigrant children to sponsored homes in Georgia and warned the president not to allow immigrants into the state again without first informing Deal.

“This came as a complete shock to me as the governor of this state,” Deal wrote in his letter. “I’m sure it will also shock the local communities around the state where these individuals currently reside.”

The kids who came to Georgia are part of an influx of about 60,000 unaccompanied children from Central American countries who have tried to enter the U.S. at the Texas border. Federal law requires that they be given full immigration hearings to determine if they will be granted refugee status.

In his meeting with Latino leaders, Deal said, “The group reported that there’s strong evidence that these children are staying with family members and foster families through placement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

“They pointed out that the families must agree to cover the child’s financial needs, and the group discussed the unique needs and challenges some of the children would bring to a school district in Georgia,” Deal said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: immigrant children , Latino leaders , Nathan Deal