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There he goes again. Just weeks after having dished out a heaping helping of red meat to Islamophobes and other nativists during a dreary three-and-a-half minute appearance with the Fox News prince of darkness, Bill O’Reilly, Gov. Pat McCrory is once more swimming in the murky Fox waters and misleading people about refugees.

This week it was a little lower down the  food chain with Fox Business talking head Neil Cavuto (indeed, the Guv was back to skipping the necktie he felt compelled to don for O’Reilly) but the basic shtick was the same:  Syrian refugees – dangerous and scary; Obama negligent and uncaring as whether he deposits terrorists into North Carolina; Pat McCrory – tough and vigilant (despite having absolutely no authority to do anything or any real knowledge as to any genuine risk on the ground).

The Guv, in an apparent effort to boost his approval rating on the fearful fringe, also declined an opportunity to criticize presidential candidate Donald Trump. Here’s the exchange:

Cavuto: “You know Governor, tomorrow I’ll be talking to Donald Trump on this issue. He’s taken it to the next level by saying we should go slow on allowing more Muslims into the country until we sort all of this out. How do you feel about that?”

McCrory: “I think you determine it by the country and the origin of the area that they’re coming from and my biggest concern is coming from those countries in which there’s basic a civil war going on at this point in time and where ISIS is very, very strong and where it’s impossible to do a background check.”

Translation: “I’m not courageous enough to criticize Trump directly as I don’t want to alienate his supporters or look overly two-faced (after all, he was a featured speaker at the last two state GOP conventions that I helped headline), but I also know I can’t get away with attacking all Muslims, so I’ll just mumble some gibberish about ISIS and civil wars and hope people don’t see the complete illogic given that escaping civil war is one of the signature characteristics of being a ‘refugee.'”

The bottom line: Expect to see more of this. McCrory seems to be intent on appearing “tough on immigration” and the issue is perfect for a politician given his utter lack of authority and responsibility on the matter and the vast number of right-wing media platforms looking to fill airtime.

Click below to watch McCrory and here to see the kind of caring and thinking action that a real leader ought to take.
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Commentary

McCrory_budget305-aGovernor Pat McCrory expressed a tough stance regarding immigration enforcement during a recent segment of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor (see Rob Schofield’s post below). Unfortunately, the Governor’s lack of understanding about how immigration enforcement actually works further muddies the waters for law enforcement in North Carolina, is confusing in light of his previous statements and sends precisely the wrong message at this important time in history.

To be clear, McCrory was talking to O’Reilly about the infamous HB 318, which prohibits local governments from adopting policies that bar or discourage their police agencies from gathering information about a person’s immigration status. Gov. McCrory stated there were five such jurisdictions in the state without mentioning, or possibly even knowing, that the policies in those cities were already rendered largely obsolete by the activation of the federal government’s “Secure Communities” program throughout the state, which required the sharing of fingerprints between the local law enforcement agency and immigration enforcement. The so-called sanctuary policies that existed before passage of HB 318 did little to protect those arrested (due to operation of Secure Communities), but they did a lot to foster trust with victims and witnesses of crime.

McCrory also claimed that the law will “unleash the handcuffs” from police officers who want to enforce the law. This is wrong. McCrory’s own interpretation of the new law released just last month stated that it “does not require law enforcement to collect” information about immigration status. What’s more, as Chief Lopez of the Durham Police Department has explained with respect to his own city, this law could actually hurt policing. McCrory’s mixed signals about the law’s execution seem likely to abet this process by helping to erode the trust needed between immigrant communities and the police.

In taking a strong stance against immigration, McCrory also sought to highlight the need for “teamwork” in public safety. But in any team, people play different positions. Just ask Carolina Panthers defensive star Luke Kuechly if he could or should try to take Cam Newton’s place at quarterback. It would make no more sense than it would for the SBI to start issuing parking citations.

The federal government’s message has always been consistent: immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and such enforcement takes into consideration government resources, national security, and international relations. McCrory voiced a grudging understanding of the limited role of the state when it comes to the Syrian refugee crisis, yet he seems to ignore this obvious dichotomy when it comes to already immigrants living in our state.

Ultimately, McCrory’s various statements regarding North Carolina’s new law leave us with at least three negative takeaways:

First, by sending mixed signals, he make it difficult for people to decipher what the law does.

Second, he clearly signed a law that hurts law enforcement rather than helping it.

Third and most troubling, his rhetoric abandons who we are as a nation, straying from our moral duty to help those escaping persecution and poverty. Immigrants, regardless of status, contribute to the fabric of our communities and the state. History will judge the strength and character of our nation by how we treat those in need, and in time, McCrory’s abandonment of our core values will be deemed an epic fail.

[Editor’s note: Raul Pinto is a staff attorney in the Immigrant and Refugee Rights project at the North Carolina Justice Center.]

Commentary

We had a standing room only crowd at yesterday’s excellent Crucial Conversation luncheon: “Immigrants in North Carolina: Where do things stand? Where do we go from here?” For those who couldn’t be in attendance to hear from our experts, Patrick McHugh and Raul Pinto, here is the video of the event:

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Commentary

The best answer to the question in the headline above, of course, is “Let’s fervently hope not.” Unfortunately, recent events indicate that there’s reason for concern. As Professor Julie Weise of the University of Oregon made clear in an excellent column in Raleigh’s News & Observer last week critiquing Governor McCrory’s transformation since his days as Mayor of Charlotte, political opportunism is a pernicious drug for people in public office.

“Though the governor claims he has always supported legal immigration but not illegal, Charlotte’s economy thrived and his career benefited from policies that welcomed immigrant labor whatever its status. Under McCrory’s watch, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office instituted a policy to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for any reason, but the Charlotte Police Department declined to do so, preferring to retain the trust of the immigrant community – in other words, the very type of ‘sanctuary city’ policy McCrory has just outlawed. The welcome mat was out, the immigrants came with or without papers, and the city flourished economically.

Paradoxically, it was this very economic ‘revitalization’ of Charlotte, bolstered by Latinos, that allowed McCrory to nurture statewide ambition. Setting his sights on North Carolina’s Executive Mansion, McCrory turned his back on Latinos around 2005. That year, he appointed an Immigration Study Commission to provide political cover for his growing ambivalence on the issue, and by 2006 he was openly speaking out against Latino immigration.

Fortunately, there continue to be lots of opportunities for people who want to promote sane and humane policies toward immigrants to learn, educate and speak out. There will be another such event next Wednesday here in Raleigh at the final N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation of the year. Here are the details:

Immigrants in North Carolina: Where do things stand? Where do we go from here?

Featuring Patrick McHugh of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center and Raul Pinto of the N.C. Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

Click here to register

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Commentary

In case you missed it, the good folks at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center have prepared a nice contribution for your Thanksgiving potluck — a series of talking points to help you converse with your less-well-informed dinner companions. Enjoy!

Here are some key facts to throw out there as you pass the gravy boat and say “yes, please” to a second – or third – piece of pecan pie.

WHEN THEY SAY: “We need to attract more businesses to relocate here if we want North Carolina to grow. Cutting taxes, regulations, and unemployment insurance and not expanding Medicaid is the best way to do that.”

YOU SAY: First of all, it’s really people like you and me, consumers, who create jobs. Businesses hire when they see a demand for their products, so job creation really starts with making sure we earn a good living and feel secure enough to spend.

Even if we’re talking about where large companies choose to invest, state taxes just aren’t that big of a deal. You have to turn a profit before you pay taxes, so that’s what companies are thinking about first and foremost. Most companies look for educated workers, a good transportation system, and a place that their employees want to live before they think about taxes.

If North Carolina is going to do better, we need to focus on policies that will make everyone feel more economically secure.

WANT TO READ MORE? BTC Policy Basic: The Reality of Tax Cuts

WHEN THEY SAY: “The Carolina Comeback is real! Clearly these policies are working.”

YOU SAY: (Stage directions optional): The Carolina Comeback sounds nice but it’s not the reality for most North Carolinians and communities in our state.

First off, it’s a U.S. comeback, nothing special to North Carolina. We went into the recession as a country, and the recovery has happened nationwide. Read More