Georgia editorial roundup
By The Associated Press
Sep. 13, 2017
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Savannah Morning News on immigration reform:
President Obama created a huge mess and unrealistically raised hopes when he overstepped his constitutional authority, on humanitarian grounds, to allow about 800,000 young people, who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, to remain in this county under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The recipients of DACA — who are often referred to as "dreamers" — had hoped President Trump would continue in the footsteps of President Obama. Instead, on Tuesday, the president rescinded DACA, leaving it largely to Congress to clean up the mess it created by its failure to pass immigration reform. In the process, he created tremendous uncertainty and anxiety for young students and workers who don't know what their futures hold.
That's why Congress must finally get serious about immigration reform and not rely on a U.S. president to cover up for its own political failures.
It's wrong to conclude that Mr. Trump killed the DACA dream, or that his decision was "an act of pure cruelty," as the Los Angeles Times opined, or was proof of "cowardice," according to the New York Times.
If anything, the president showed proper respect for the U.S. Constitution by keeping the executive branch out of what should be the legislative branch's business. He chose not to compound the error made by Mr. Obama, and instead is punting the ball to Congress, which is where the issue of immigrant reform belongs.
Indeed, this is hardly an old issue, as the nation has been here before under a Republican president.
President George W. Bush's 2007 Immigration Reform Act contained the original Dream Act in its entirety, and Mr. Bush was ready and willing to sign the bill. But Congress failed. A version of the bill has been introduced every year since, and Congress repeatedly failed.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled his willingness to work on a bipartisan measure with the president to satisfy concerns over immigration. Part of that deal would include beefing up security at the border. It's noteworthy that Mr. Ryan never mentioned the word "wall," which Mr. Trump and some of his supporters have insisted must be built along the Southwest border.
Mr. Ryan's support for reasonable and necessary immigration reform is encouraging. Even more encouraging is the work that Georgia Sen. David Perdue and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton are doing in the Senate with the RAISE act to reform legal immigration, which is overdue and do-able.
"Moving forward, it is imperative that any immigration proposals considered by Congress protect the interests of working Americans, including immigrants, " Mr. Perdue said Tuesday. "We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past with a comprehensive immigration bill that does not work. The RAISE Act's changes to our legal immigration system should be part of the solution. I will continue working with Senator Cotton and my colleagues to advance this merit-based system that is pro-worker, pro-growth, and proven to work."
Mr. Perdue is right. His bill is a good one — much better than anything else on the table in the Senate.
Mr. Trump is giving Congress six months to do its job. After that, none of the short-term work permits issued under DACA will be renewed, ending the legal status altogether.
Hence, there is time for lawmakers to keep the dream of U.S. citizenship alive for the thousands of young DACA "dreamers."
Indeed, they merit sympathy from the public. Most of these "dreamers' had no choice about entering this nation illegally, as they were brought into this country involuntarily by their parents or other relatives. Since their arrival, many have become hard-working, productive members of American society. They speak English and know no other county but the United States, they are among our friends, neighbors, fellow students and co-workers. Some share pews in local churches.
"In my ministry I have encountered numerous DACA recipients who are already making a positive contribution in our local communities and parishes," Catholic Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of the Diocese of Savannah said Wednesday.
"My hope now is that Congress acts swiftly and effectively to provide a sensible solution that will be beneficial to these young men and women. I feel it will be in our best interest for Congress to respond in a manner that does not interrupt the education, employment and dreams of these young people," Bishop Hartmayer added.
We share the bishop's hope that Congress will act swiftly and effectively. We also recognize Mr. Trump's unwillingness to compound the errors of his predecessor by ignoring the Constitution and kicking the can of immigration reform down the road.
The dream of U.S. citizenship is only deferred and should become closer to a reality when Congress does its job.
Indeed, Mr. Trump has now placed this politically charged matter at the doorstep of Congress. We encourage Congressman Buddy Carter and other members of Georgia's House delegation to work with Speaker Ryan to make this happen. We also encourage Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson and other senators to get on board with Mr. Perdue's RAISE act.
The Telegraph of Macon on how Georgia and Florida prepared for Hurricane Irma:
Hurricane Harvey turned most of south Texas into an adjunct of the Gulf of Mexico that expanded for almost 30,000 square miles covered by, according to the National Weather Service, 20 inches of rain. Included were 11,492 square miles covered with 30 inches of rain and 3,643 square miles from Houston to Beaumont where 40 inches of rain were dumped. This from a storm that hit Rockport, Texas as a Category 4 hurricane packing 130 mph winds. Harvey was a record breaker.
It is with that disaster — not in the rear view mirror yet — that Hurricane Irma comes into view, setting its sights on Florida and Georgia after blowing past the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds. No bigger storm has ever been recorded, not even Harvey. Many Floridians will remember Hurricane Andrew. It was also a Category 4 storm that left south Florida a wreck. But not even Andrew could match the size of Hurricane Irma.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn't waste time. He declared a state of emergency for all of Florida on Labor Day. He called up all of the state's National Guardsmen, and by Sept. 7, there was a mandatory evacuation order impacting 650,000 south Florida residents.
Also on Sept. 7, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal expanded his state of emergency from six to 24 counties and issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of Interstate 95, all of Chatham County, and some areas west of I-95. By Friday morning, six more counties were added to the list. Gov. Scott could not have been more clear when he told "CBS This Morning" on Sept. 7, "You've got to listen to your local officials — this storm surge can kill you,"
And, after Harvey, people were paying attention and hitting the roads headed north. Unfortunately, by Thursday, all Middle Georgia area hotels and motels were at capacity.
The Georgia evacuation order went into action at 8 a.m. Sept. 9 and all eastbound lanes on Interstate 16 were contra-flowed west toward Macon where shelters were already open (East Macon Park opened on Thursday, North Macon on Friday and Macon State Farmers Market opened a pet shelter Thursday). The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army were already recruiting and training volunteers and accepting donations and opening shelters.
Middle Georgia didn't miss a beat. On Sept. 7, the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter opened as an Equine evacuation site on a first come, first serve basis for those fleeing Hurricane Irma. That had to be welcome news for people, particularly those from Florida's Ocala-Marion County area, that's home to 1,200 horse farms.
Florida highways started to clog up almost immediately, but gasoline was in short supply. Trucks carrying fuel to resupply stations were given escorts by the state patrol to get them through traffic and stations were urged to remain open to handle the evacuees.
Gov. Deal also called up 5,000 National Guardsmen to help with "preparation, response and recovery" efforts due to the hurricane. Both governors were taking no chances. While some of the tracking models show Hurricane Irma hitting Alabama and South Carolina, most of the models put Florida and Georgia directly in the storm's path.
After this is all over, arm chair quarterbacks, as they are accustomed to doing, will access, (in their considered, expert opinion, though they have no actual experience in such situations), what should have been done or not. Those same quarterbacks took center stage for a time after Harvey, second-guessing whether a mandatory evacuation should have been ordered. However, every hurricane is different — as different as the topography of Georgia, Florida and Texas. There is no one-size-fits-all hurricane evacuation decision. And the old familiar phrase remains true: "Better to be safe than sorry."
It is too soon to write Irma's story — at least its final chapters. This is what we know: Our guests have arrived — worried guests who have visions of stricken Texans stuck in their minds. They are wondering if they'll soon join them as victims of the one-two punch of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We may not have a red carpet, but we'll be sure to have someplace dry where they can take a load off. We'll comfort them, as best we can, pray for their safety and we'll offer them our friendly never-met-a-stranger smiles. And when the time comes, like the rest of America, we'll help put them on the road to recovery.
The Brunswick News on cleanup from Hurricane Irma:
No one can say they were not warned.
Hurricane Irma will have serious consequences for the residents and businesses of the Golden Isles for a while. As we write this editorial, we are using computers run by a gas-powered generator. Thousands are without power, thousands are trapped on St. Simons Island as the F.J. Torras Causeway remains closed, and others are homeless after trees fell on their homes or water inundated them.
Perhaps the most sobering fact is that Hurricane Irma merely brushed Georgia's 100-mile coastline. The pummeling winds and pouring rains were but a taste of her full fury — a brush of her tail. We send our condolences to our neighbors in Florida who bore her brunt.
Though, among the downed trees and flooded homes, there was hope. Almost immediately, area residents left the shelter of their homes to check on their neighbors and the property of those who evacuated. Police officers rescued children from rising flood waters. Tough guys with pickup trucks pulled limbs from cluttered roadways.
On Monday, a rainbow even graced the skies over downtown Brunswick.
To those whose homes were damaged or flooded, know that you are not alone. You may be afraid. You may feel helpless. You may even wonder where you will sleep tonight.
But the Golden Isles is a strong community that takes care of its own. We will clean up the debris and straighten out our lives.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have come out on the other side of Irma unscathed now have the moral obligation to support those in need. Help your elderly neighbor clean up her yard. If you have a chainsaw and are able, help clear roads. Listen to authorities and heed their instructions.
We have been here before, and we will be here again. Hurricanes come with the territory of the southeast Georgia coast. We cannot stop them, but we can remain vigilant and prepared.
It is rational and logical to assume more hurricanes will come. With them, more trees will fall, more waters will rise and more challenges will mount.
But keep your chin up, Golden Isles. We all will get through this together.