Under the Dome

Politicians react to Syria refugee resettlements in NC

Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday called on President Barack Obama to stop sending Syrian refugees to North Carolina until authorities ensure none of them are terrorists.

McCrory’s announcement in a news conference in Charlotte followed statements by the Republican governors of more than one dozen states they won’t accept Syrian refugees, because of the Paris attacks.

“I am asking the president to take a deep breath and ask the question: Are the people coming from Syria, are they all people who we can ensure are safe for our citizens and are not terrorists?” McCrory said. “... These are very unique times, times when we have to take appropriate cautionary actioni to protect our citizens, while also understanding many are also dealing with this terrible group that’s called ISIS.”

The governor said he was frustrated that there will inadequate communication between the State Department and North Carolina officials.

The call for barring Syrian refugees picked up momentum as the day went on.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, filed a bill Monday evening that would halt relocating all Syrian refugees to this country, pending confirmation that none are terrorists or have “radical sympathies,” according to his office.

Rep. Mike Hager, a Republican from Rutherfordton and the majority leader of the state House, asked McCrory to put the brakes on the program. Rep. Carl Ford, a Republican state legislator from China Grove, went even farther: “I have asked the Governor to stop all Syrian refugees from entering NC and to call on the Feds to deport the 44 who are already here,” Ford tweeted.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, issued a statement also calling for the program to be suspended. “There is simply too much at stake and the security of the American people should be our top priority,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, called on the president to defund the refugee program for those from the Middle East. In September, Jones co-sponsored a bill that would suspend the refugee resettlement program until the costs to local, state and federal governments is known.

Earlier Monday, Frank Roche, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District GOP primary next year, called a news conference to call on her to ask President Obama to suspend the Syrian refugee integration program in the United States, in light of the Paris attacks over the weekend.

Monday evening, Ellmers issued a written statement:

“I do not believe we should accept any additional refugees until we have a robust and enhanced vetting process in place. It’s imperative that we take every possible precaution to ensure that we do not jeopardize the safety and security of our own citizens. This is why I have advocated again and again for securing our border and repairing our nation’s broken immigration system — as they are both vital to our national security. In fact, to keep these threats out, we should have acted 10 months ago by voting on the House border security bill.

“However, in knowing the Obama Administration’s lack of transparency and disdain for oversight, I signed onto a letter to the Chairman of Homeland Security back in September urging that he hold hearings to ensure there is a thorough process in place to properly vet refugees from Syria and make certain they do not pose as a threat to national security. Additionally, I have signed onto legislation called the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015” introduced by North Carolina Representative Richard Hudson.”

U.S. Rep. David Price, D-North Carolina, has a different view:

“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.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said his state would continue to work with the federal government to relocate refugees in that state.

This country has accepted fewer than 2,000 of the 4 million refugees from the Syrian conflict since 2012, according to a report by The New York Times last month.

According to the governor’s office, 59 Syrian refugees have been relocated to North Carolina. Fewer than 270 additional refugees are expected.

Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants' Rights Project, issued a statement:

"Some politicians have attempted to fabricate a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. Making policy based on this fear-mongering is wrong for two reasons. It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded."

This post has been updated

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