Political Insider

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Georgia gov candidates split over Trump's move to end DACA

Georgia’s Republican candidates for governor praised President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era program that prevents young undocumented immigrants from being deported, largely focusing their responses on the need to enforce the rule-of-law.

Democrats unleashed a torrent of criticism of the decision, talking of the human toll of Trump’s decision to rescind what he called “an amnesty first approach” to immigration

The six leading contenders to replace Gov. Nathan Deal split along party lines over his step to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. (Deal, for his part, said through a spokeswoman that “Georgia will continue to follow the rule of law as it has always done.”)

Former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, once the top Democrat in the Georgia House, said she was “deeply disappointed by the administration’s irresponsible and cruel decision” to rescind the order, and urged her Twitter followers to call the office numbers of Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

“All Georgians must fight for these young people,” said Abrams.

Her Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, said she would fight to “defend DACA” and that Trump's decision isn't just ephemeral - it effects the people she sees in church, at her daughter’s soccer practice and at the grocery store.

“These are our friends and our neighbors,” Evans said. “They are soldiers and nurses, students and teachers. These are people who believe in what I believe in as an American. They believe in the American dream. So call them DACA, call them Dreamers, but as an American, I call them welcome.”

Republicans cast Trump’s move as a chance to roll back what they saw as Barack Obama’s abuses. Former state Sen. Hunter Hill said Obama “bypassed Congress instead of working with them to address this complex issue” and said steps to overhaul the program should include measures to stop illegal immigration.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp called it “amnesty for illegal immigrants” that includes many adults – along with some with criminal records. He added: “The federal government must end DACA and get serious about fixing our broken immigration system.”

And state Sen. Michael Williams said Trump is “fulfilling the promises he made during the campaign” – and now it’s up to Congress to make good on them.

“Republicans have long claimed the executive order from Obama was unconstitutional, and now Trump is returning those decisions back to Congress - where they belong,” he said.

And Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he supports the president's decision to give "Congress time to find a solution" that could involve Perdue's proposal to overhaul legal immigration.

"Upholding the rule of law is the most compassionate action we can take, because that is the foundation for the rights that protect everyone in this country," he said.

More recent AJC coverage of the governor’s race:

A new relationship brewing between Georgia Republicans and alcohol

A divide over the two Staceys has Georgia Democrats worried

Georgia candidates face big question: keep job or resign

Candidates for governor are showing rural Georgia some love

Health policy splits Georgia gov candidates after repeal’s fail

Governor’s race revives a familiar feud between Kemp, Abrams

How Trump is shaking up the governor’s race

Georgia governor race: Who is running in 2018

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.