During an appearance on Tuesday, a group of four immigration activists from the Undocumented Student Alliance asked Deal about the policy of categorizing undocumented students who live in the state to attend college as international students — and pay much higher out-of-state tuition rates.
Deal responded that if the policy was overturned it would be a "huge concern" for the people of Georgia.
"It can only really effectively be dealt with by the federal government at the congressional level in dealing with the DREAM Act children, which I presume maybe you are," Deal said according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Deal was then pressed by the activists and at one point the governor responded "what I'm saying here is there is a fundamental problem that can only be solved at the congressional level and that is to deal with the issue of children, I presume you probably fit the category—"
"I don't. I am not an illegal immigrant and I don't know why you thought that I was undocumented. Is it because I look Hispanic?" one of the activists interjected.
Deal then apologized.
"I apologize if I insulted you I did not intend to," he said. "It is an issue that I hope you continue to press in Congress. It is one of the issues that I believe it were a standalone issue, could be passed in Congress."
Listen to the audio, via the Banner-Herald below. The question that sparked the exchange starts at about the 6:50 mark.
You can see the confrontation at the 2:00-minute mark in the below video, uploaded by YouTube user johndavidmarr: