Georgia prepared to fight in court over Syrian refugee policy

Georgia appears ready to battle the Obama administration in court over the state’s refusal to process food stamp applications for new Syrian refugees.

“The state is willing to let the federal government run the program if they choose to do so. We’ve told them that in the past,” Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday. “We think that this is something that’s within the prerogative of the state. If they expect us to administer it, we ought to have some input into the process.”

Deal joined more than half the nation’s governors in opposing the Obama administration’s resettlement program for Syrian refugees after the terror attacks in Paris, and he issued an executive order on Nov. 16 instructing state agencies to halt any involvement in resettling those refugees.

Soon afterward, the Georgia Department of Human Services, which administers the benefits, issued a memorandum ordering its employees not to process the food stamp applications of Syrian refugees who are resettled in Georgia after Nov. 16.

That led to a warning shot last week by the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which oversees the national program, urging the state to “rescind this memorandum and cease this practice immediately” or risk violating the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

“As long as an applicant submits a SNAP application that includes the applicant’s name, address, and signature, the state agency must accept and process the application to be in compliance with federal law,” the program’s administrator wrote.

Deal, when asked Wednesday about the likelihood of a legal showdown over his refugee policy, was curt.

“We will defend them.”

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