A pair of prominent Democrats urged Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday to refuse to send Georgia National Guard troops to the U.S. border until President Donald Trump ends his policy of separating children from their parents when they cross into this country illegally.
In the letter, state Rep. Scott Holcomb and state Sen. Elena Parent pressed the Republican governor to “stand on the right side of history” and refuse Trump’s call for more troops to protect the border with Mexico until the policy is reversed.
“This is not a partisan issue; it is a moral one. Children are not negotiating tools and should never be used as leverage in the pursuit of a political agenda,” wrote the two DeKalb Democrats.
The governor has yet to send any Georgia National Guard troops to the border, and said Tuesday he has not had any “specific requests” to do so. His office has said he has no plans to dispatch troops.
Several governors are canceling the deployment of troops to the region to protest the Trump administration’s policy, or are pledging to withhold resources.
The two Republican candidates competing to replace him, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, both vowed to send troops to the border ahead of the May primary vote.
Both have also defended Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which includes separating children from their parents as they try to enter the U.S. seeking asylum.
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who awaits the winner of the July 24 runoff, has called on politicians from both parties to put an end to the practice or risk “inflicting irreparable damage on these families and to our nation.”
The governor, who represented a north Georgia district in U.S. Congress for nearly two decades, blamed an influx of immigrants, and not Trump’s policy, for the attention.
“It’s always traumatic when you have to confront those situations, but this one has brought more tension because we have apparently seen such a huge increase in the number of families with children who are at our border,” said Deal.
He said he’s hopeful that the crisis will encourage federal lawmakers to “begin to work cooperatively toward what appears to require a more comprehensive solution to the issue of both legal and illegal immigration.”
As for what he would suggest, Deal was tightlipped.
“For a governor to propose they have the answer to that would be very presumptuous,” he said, “and I’m not usually a presumptuous governor.”
More recent AJC coverage of the migrant issue: