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Rule of law v. human toll: The diction behind Ga. lawmakers' DACA responses

WASHINGTON -- Georgia lawmakers' responses to the Trump administration's decision to end deportation protection for nearly 800,000 young immigrants Tuesday fell along the predictable partisan lines. Even more fascinating were the very words the officials used to voice their opinions.

The Republicans used terms like 'unconstitutional' to describe their opposition to former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. They said President Donald Trump was adhering to the 'rule of law' and 'separation of powers' by phasing out the executive order and lobbing the issue to Congress.

Not included in most of the formal statements released by those Republican lawmakers, though, was any mention of the so-called Dreamers themselves, the young people the DACA program was designed to protect.

Juxtapose that with Georgia's Democrats, who almost exclusively focused on the human aspect of Trump's decision and not the constitutionality or legality of his or Obama's choices. They used words like 'despicable' and 'unconscionable,' and highlighted the contributions of those undocumented youngsters to American society.

The differences show just how challenging it will be for congressional leaders to find a legislative path for saving the program in the months ahead.

It does, however, look like they have somewhere to start. Nearly all the lawmakers said Congress should act.

Take a look for yourself:

Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans:

“It is the job of Congress to write our laws, and President Obama’s DACA program was a clear example of executive overreach. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to find a feasible permanent solution.”

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia:

“By rescinding DACA, President Trump is sending a clear and unambiguous message to his Steve Bannon-alt right supporters that they have a friend in the White House…President Trump did the wrong thing in failing to protect our DACA youth, and history will judge him harshly."

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville:

“President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memo demonstrates his understanding of the law, to which we are all bound. Unfortunately, the previous administration disregarded the law in a 2012 decision that remains unconstitutional.”

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany:

“These individuals include talented students, hard-working high school graduates, and veterans who pose no threat to public safety. Going after these individuals would consume much-needed resources needed by law enforcement to target those who would do America harm."

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville:

“Tweaks by Congress, and executive orders by various administrations, have created an immigration policy that favors illegal immigration and punishes those who want to legally come here to work. President Barack Obama's executive order was outside the constitutional authority of the executive branch, and I agree with President Trump's decision to reverse the order and call on Congress to fundamentally reform our immigration policy."

Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta:

“These are children and young adults who were brought to the U.S. as small kids, and they know no other home but here in America. They attend schools, hold jobs and are valuable members of our communities across the nation.  They are American through and through, and deserve the same respect, dignity and chance to succeed that the rest of us hope for ourselves.”

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler:

"We are a nation of laws and we must enforce our immigration laws. This is one way we uphold our greatest responsibility of providing for the common defense. It is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States and our homeland security that we ensure that all those wishing to come and stay in our nation not only contribute in a positive way to our American society, but also come here in the proper and legal way. Amnesty should never be the answer.”

Read more about Trump's DACA moves: 

The Trump administration is rescinding DACA

What is DACA and why does President Trump want to end it?

DACA supporters march in Atlanta as President Trump’s decision looms

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.