Georgia Must Process Food Stamps for Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee, who agreed to be photographed on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation against family living in Syria, poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, at the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley in Whitehall, Pa. Dozens of Syrian refugee families are being resettled in the Allentown, Pa., area in part because the city is already home to one of the nation's largest population of Syrians, who began settling here in the late 1800s. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

ATLANTA (AP) – Federal officials are ordering Georgia to process food stamp applications for Syrian refugees.

Jessica Shahin, associate administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sent a letter Wednesday to Bobby Cagle, director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, which administers the food stamp program in the state.

Gov. Nathan Deal last week issued an order directing state agency heads to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

Subsequently, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services sent a memo to agency staff instructing them not to take or process new applications for any benefit assistance for Syrian refugees. The Division of Family and Children Services is part of the Department of Human Services.

Shahin wrote that refusing applications because of national origin violates federal law.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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