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Officials speak out on immigration issue
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-1, is quick to agree on the need to address children of illegal immigrants who have lived in America most of their lives and consider it home.

But there is a better way to do the issue than offering immigrant children carte blanche amnesty through an executive order issued by President Barack Obama, Kingston said.

The order offers the now college-age children of illegal aliens amnesty, but only if they apply for it and have no criminal record.

Supporters of the executive order, which achieves what Congress was unable to achieve when it deadlocked on Dream Act legislation, said the children brought up in America by illegal immigrant parents should not be penalized by kicking them out of the country.

"There's a definite issue that needs to be addressed, but I think it needs to be done through the legislative branch with plenty of airings and hearings," Kingston said. "The process might be frustrating, long and arduous, but it is still a better process than the executive branch going out on a tear and doing something on its own."

Kingston said there are a number of issues to consider and study, like the impact those receiving amnesty will have on entitlement programs. Many of the programs are already in a financial crisis without the added weight of undocumented guests.

"America should know the impact of this beforehand, not two or three years from now when the president is going out the door," Kingston said.

Thousands have already applied for amnesty. In Georgia alone, more than 10,000 have requested a reprieve from deportation to date, ranking the Peach State ninth in the nation for applicants. California was No. 1 with 82,000.

Nationwide, some 53,273 have already received amnesty.

"I have seen this young person many times in many rural areas of Georgia - a person brought here when 3 and who is now 17 and has a Southern accent but can't get a driver's license and can't get a job because he is an illegal immigrant," Kingston said. "It is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed. The concern that I have in this is a typical overreach of the Obama administration, this behind-the-scenes executive order.

"I think something like this should come through Congress."

Another potential problem could be the impact on parents and older family members who face deportation but who will not want to be separated from children awarded amnesty.

"This young person becomes a anchor for chain migration for the family," Kingston said.

State Rep. Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, an author of the state's tough immigration law, sees it the same way.

"This is a textbook example of executive overreach," Atwood said. "Even if (the president) disagrees, if and until the immigration laws are changed through the normal legislative process it is critical that the president uphold the rule of law without partiality or prejudice.

"As a nation of laws, we should not have a legal standard in this country and wink at it."

Atwood said executive orders should not be an end run around Congress.

"Congress voted down the Dream Act two years ago," he said. "If the president believes the immigration laws should be modified or changed, then work with the Congress to change them. Until then, enforce the law as written."

Atwood said it is too early to predict what it will mean to Georgia.

Obama defended the executive order issued in June, saying at the time, "We're a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids."

The Georgia Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

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