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Federal Government Says Georgia Must Process Food Stamp Requests From Syrian Refugees

In the aftermath of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, Republican Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order that instructed all state agencies to stop processing any paperwork involving new Syrian refugees.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture warned Georgia's social services agency that refusing to process food stamp applications for new refugees in Georgia is a violation of federal law.

Deal was one of more than 30 governors opposing the White House's plan to allow 10,000 refugees from Syria into the U.S. over the next year. Deal signed the order to halt the processing of paperwork for new refugees on Nov. 16, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

After the executive order was enacted, Georgia's Department of Human Services directed its employees to stop processing applications for food stamp benefits for any Syrian refugees who are resettled in Georgia at any time after Nov. 16.  

The Associated Press reports that Jessica Shahin, associate administrator of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name of the food stamp program, sent a letter to the director of Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services, the agency that administers SNAP.

“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 letter reads, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Shahin urged the state government to rescind Deal's directive, or it would be in danger of violating the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

Time Magazine reported on Nov. 20 that a new poll shows the majority of Americans support the use of force against Islamic State group and oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.  

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Deal's office was overwhelmed with questions about his position on these issues, with impassioned calls to restrict the entrance of Syrian refugees into the state and follow the decision made by more than half of the nation's governors.  

Deal's executive order may precede a legal showdown with the federal government, which has the authority to assign refugees to the states.

Sources: AP via WSB-TV 2, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Photo Credit: Josh Zakary/Flickr

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