The Board of Aldermen will welcome Syrian refugees with open arms, despite more than half the nation’s governors, including Gov. Pat McCrory, telling President Obama they oppose such admission.
At its Nov. 24 meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution declaring Carrboro a safe haven for Syrian refugees. It forwarded the resolution for consideration to the governments of Orange County and Chapel Hill, where former Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt released a statement last month welcoming refugees.
Carrboro Mayor Pro Tem Sammy Slade, presiding in Mayor Lydia Lavelle’s absence at the November meeting, cited many legal reasons for accepting refugees from all over the world. Among them was the prohibition on discriminating against people because of their national origin.
“Refugees are not terrorists,” Slade said.
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He said it was the town’s responsibility to offer help.
U.S. Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, agrees.
“Closing our borders to refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war not only flies in the face of our national values of protecting the persecuted and providing refuge for the oppressed; it also undermines our nation’s standing in the world and our ability to confront the scourge of violent extremism,” Price said in a statement last month.
“Refugees from Syria are already subject to an extensive vetting process designed to ensure the safety of the families and communities in which they are placed. In the aftermath of the horrific attacks in Paris, we must do everything possible to protect American citizens at home and abroad,” he continued. “But to conflate refugees with terrorists doesn’t make us safer; it merely perpetuates an environment of suspicion and anxiety and risks lending more credibility to terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.”
Slade said that when he sent out a draft resolution to his colleagues via email, he found that they were all at some stage of drafting something similar.
Although more than half of U.S. governors, most of them Republicans, have written letters opposing the acceptance of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s war zone, none has jurisdiction to actually block them from coming in.
The admittance of refugees is a matter of federal jurisdiction. The states’ ability to impede the process lies in their refusal to help.
State governments can facilitate refugee relocation by managing federal funds that support nonprofit organizations specializing in resettling refugees.
The Carrboro resolution says the town will try to partner with other municipalities to help that process along if the state government refuses to do so.
Alderman Damon Seils described the governors’ actions as cynical use of the fear of terrorism as a wedge issue for political purposes.
The aldermen’s resolution passed unanimously.