North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory joined a growing list of state heads asking the President to slow or even halt the flow of Syrian refugees across the country.
“Because of the most recent attacks in Paris and the very real possibility that one of the terrorists entered France as a recent refugee,” McCrory says, “I am now requesting that the President and the federal government cease sending refugees from Syria to North Carolina.”
The list of governors opposing the relocation of Syrian refugees in their states now contains nearly two dozen names, mostly Republican with some Democrat.
President Barack Obama increased the number of refugees the United States would accept from 2,000 up to 10,000 earlier this year.
Concerns over the influx of refugees gained momentum over the weekend after the terrorist attacks in Paris, when a Syrian passport was found by the side of one of the attackers. That raised criticism that ISIS may have implanted attackers in the thousands of Syrians fleeing their war-torn country.
McCrory said North Carolina has a proud tradition and humanitarian obligation to provide a hand up for those in need, including international refugees. But he says that falls behind is paramount responsibility.
“My primary duty as governor is to protect the citizens of North Carolina,” McCrory says, “which is why I’m taking these steps and making this request of the President today.”
McCrory said he wants the federal government to stop relocating Syrian refugees to the Tar Heel state until officials receive more information about and are satisfied with the federal government’s background checks of the immigrants.
“I think what my public safety people are requesting and what I request as governor,” McCrory says, “is that we learn exactly who these people are, what there backgrounds are and we know exactly where they’re being relocated.
“In case there are potential threats, we know where to follow through.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt signed a letter, along with 17 other mayors, saying their cities are ready and willing to take in even more Syrian refugees than the Obama administration has proposed.
North Carolina is currently home to 59 Syrian refugees, according to McCrory.
“We have received almost little or no security information about those refugees on their backgrounds, even possibly their names in certain circumstances,” McCrory says. “We are asking for more additional collaboration and basic information, such as where these refugees are now residing.”
McCrory says top state officials are currently examining legal options if the President does not heed the request of the governors.
Congressman David Price issued a statement Monday evening saying that “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 went on to say that “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.”
Price adds that keeping Americans safe at home and abroad is paramount but to “conflate refugees with terrorists doesn’t make us safer; it merely perpetuates and environment of suspicion and anxiety and risks lending more credibility to terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.”
Experts maintain there is little to no legal footing for states to reject refugees.