Under the Dome

Democrats blast Roy Cooper for comments on Syrian refugees

Roy Cooper announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015.
Roy Cooper announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

Attorney General Roy Cooper is facing a barrage of criticism on social media for saying he wants to “pause” Syrian refugees coming to North Carolina.

Cooper, a Democrat who’s running against Gov. Pat McCrory, is largely backing the governor’s stance on the issue. McCrory has repeatedly called on President Barack Obama this week to stop sending Syrians to North Carolina in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

“As chief law enforcement officer of North Carolina, I support asking the federal government to pause refugee entries to make sure we have the most effective screening process possible so our humanitarian efforts are not hijacked,” Cooper said Wednesday. “At the same time, we must not let political fear-mongering on this issue divert our attention and resources from stopping terrorists who may already be here or who are trying to get into our country in other ways.”

Obama has said the U.S. will continue to take in Syrian refugees, but his position saw very little support from North Carolina leaders in his own party. A legislative commission voted unanimously Wednesday to side with McCrory.

On Twitter, some Democrats said they can no longer support Cooper and might consider his primary opponent, Ken Spaulding.

Spaulding issued a statement Thursday saying he disagrees with both McCrory and Cooper on the refugee issue:

“The vetting and security measures taken by our federal government usually take 18 to 24 months or more before a person is allowed to settle in our country as a refugee. This coupled with proper and effective state enforcement of our laws does provide a sound basis for our citizens’ protection and security.

“So no, I do not agree with Gov. Pat McCrory’s and Attorney General Roy Cooper’s call for a ‘pause,’ which is based on political popularity and not the facts. A year and a half to two full years with the current ongoing federal comprehensive vetting is already taking place.”

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