Governor Deal's Comment during UGA Forum Sparks Controversy

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Updated: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:19:07 EST

Atlanta, GA (WGCL) -- Governor Nathan Deal has come under fire after making a statement that a Hispanic student attending a UGA forum was an illegal immigrant.

Deal addressed a variety of topics, including immigration, during a question and answer session sponsored by the UGA College Republicans Tuesday night.

"There's a fundamental problem that can only be resolved at the Congressional level and that is to deal with the issue of children, and I presume you probably fit the category, children who were brought here," said Deal who was looking toward Lizbeth Miranda, a Hispanic student who was standing up with others asking questions.

"I'm not an illegal immigrant. I'm not," said Miranda. "I don't know why you would have thought that I was undocumented. Was it because I look Hispanic?"

The governor replied: "I apologize if I insulted you. I did not intend to."

Miranda is a member of the Undocumented Students Alliance. Group members said they found the governor's statement offensive.

"Just because they're standing up for undocumented immigrants doesn't mean they're undocumented and the fact that he assumed that doesn't speak well to me about his policies or his opinion towards immigrants in general," said student Kevin Ruiz.

"I think realistically he'll have to do some political backtracking as he prepares for the campaign, because the Hispanic community is getting very large in Georgia so he's going to have to cover himself there," said Carver Goodhue, also a group member.

Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal, said the governor directed his comment to Goodhue, a white male, not to Miranda.

"The governor was trying to have a civil conversation with a group determined to have a confrontation," said Robinson. "He was courteous and civil. The entire thing was misrepresented. They were trying to ambush him."

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