“Is it because I look Hispanic?”
That’s what UGA student Lizbeth Miranda asked Gov. Nathan Deal when he decided, just by looking at her, she must be undocumented.
When four students attending a College Republicans meeting this week at UGA questioned the state’s ban on undocumented students attending the university, Gov. Deal first tried to pass the buck to Congress and then said:
“I presume that maybe you are”… undocumented.
It’s bad enough that the governor of our increasingly diverse state thinks he can determine a person’s citizenship or immigration status just by looking at them.
But, instead of taking responsibility, Gov. Deal’s campaign team made a bad situation worse by blaming the governor’s incendiary comments on the students who questioned him.
What seemed to be an embarrassing gaffe was really just a politician speaking his mind.
It’s hard to believe that any modern governor of either party would assume that he could determine the citizenship or immigration status of a person just by looking at them, but that’s exactly what Gov. Deal did.
News of Gov. Deal’s gasp-worthy comments spread quickly through social media, and soon, Gov. Deal’s out-of-touch, divisive rhetoric again generated embarrassing national headlines for Georgia.
The truth is, no one should be shocked. Gov. Deal has a long history of advancingextreme immigration policy, and a track record of failure on civil rights and diversity issues.
In fact, Gov. Deal’s position on immigration is so extreme, that he is out of touch with the mainstream leadership of his own party.
At a recent forum, referring to undocumented students, Will Kremer, Chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, said:
“We don’t see them as these invaders, coming to America, to destroy our country. We see them as our friends that we had art class with at elementary school. We see them as our friends who used to come to our home and play games…we see them as our friends we graduated high school with. That’s how we view them. We don’t view them as monsters; we don’t view them as people coming to suck off of government programs.”
But, Gov. Deal doesn’t share Kremer’s views. When he ran for governor in 2010, Nathan Deal told the Cobb County GOP Women:
“For every illegal immigrant that is holding down a seat in a college or state university, they are denying that seat to a Georgia resident or another United States citizen. It is something that must be dealt with; as governor, I will insist that it be dealt with.”
As a member of Congress, Nathan Deal caused gridlock on immigration by advocating for extreme immigration policy. He even tried to change the 14th Amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship.
That’s right. Gov. Deal, who claims to be a constitutional conservative, was more than willing to change the United States Constitution to advance his agenda- a proposal so extreme that his Republican colleagues in Congress refused to bring it to a vote.
As governor, Nathan Deal has continued his crusade by signing into law HB 87, an anti-immigration law that is costing Georgia farmers millions of dollars, and byappointing anti-immigration extremists to powerful posts.
The bottom line?
In a state that is growing more and more diverse, Gov. Deal is mired in the past, stuck in the politics of exclusion.
His comments last night at the University of Georgia, were not a gaffe, but instead are consistent with his long-held beliefs – beliefs that are out-of-sync with most Georgians, including the leadership of his own party.
For Georgia to compete in a global economy, we need a governor who “gets it.”
This week, Gov. Deal demonstrated, once again, that he does not.