The parent organization of N.C. Policy Watch, the North Carolina Justice Center, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. McCrory’s announcement yesterday that he would oppose Syrian refugees coming to North Carolina:

Statement from the NC Justice Center: Syrian refugees should find home in NC

Times of great human tragedy are a moral test for all of us. Currently, thousands of Syrians are fleeing terror and violence from their war-torn home country. They want what we all want: a safe place to rebuild their lives. A home where their children don’t have to fear the constant threat of violence.

A few of these families have received refuge in our state. Every North Carolinian should be proud of this: it stands in the American tradition of accepting the tired, poor, huddled masses who yearn for nothing more than to breathe free.

There are many reasons, practical and otherwise, to be disappointed in Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to oppose settling Syrian refugees in North Carolina. It ignores our constitutional system, where the federal government sets immigration and refugee policy. It also sends all the wrong signals — both to refugees here, and to people overseas who may perceive this move as hostility toward helping Muslims, even those in the most desperate of situations.

The savage acts of terror in Paris require a determined and vigorous international response. We grieve for the loss of innocent lives, and fight back our nation and the world must. But the enemy is not the Syrian refugee families and their children, struggling for a peaceful life. In fact, the terrorists caused these Syrian refugees to flee their homes in the first place. If we refuse to provide them a new, safe life and opportunity, we add only to their misery, do nothing to enhance our own security, and turn probable friends into possible future foes. We can fight terror without turning our back on our values and constitutional principles. If we turn our back on those values, the terrorists win in a different way.

When we think of how to handle tragedies like this one, we should imagine our own relatives in the position of the refugees. For many of us in this nation of immigrants, this is not especially hard: a few generations ago, it was our relatives in this position.

Like our relatives of a generation or two ago, today’s refugees just need shelter from the storm. They will find it in a place where they can settle, find work, prosper and contribute. Let this place be our nation. Let this place be our state.


Pat McCrory 2Dear Pat,

Regarding your recent pronouncement that we will no longer accept Syrian refugees, all I can say is, WOOOH! Yeah! Sing it, girl! Speaking truth to the powerless, that’s my guv! I mean, I don’t think it sounds terribly legal, but you were so brave and forthright, telling traumatized families to continue to wander the earth because you’re all about the safety of North Carolinians. Babe. That is so … potent. So virile.

Which brings me to a point you may not have considered. Now that you can tell people they can’t live in the state (cool superpower, bro!), you have an opportunity to exclude a truly dangerous class of people. It includes 100% of the Paris terrorists, 100% of the 9/11 hijackers, approximately 99% of all mass shooters, and roughly 90% of all murderers everywhere. Can you guess who it is? Can you, Pat? Hint: They’re not all Syrians. They’re not even all Muslims.

Violence doesn’t have a religion, a nationality, a color, or a creed, but it does have a kickstand. Do you get it now? Men. They’re all men. As soon as we stop accepting men, we will be exponentially safer. Won’t that be righteous? Everyone shall know of your commitment to the security of our citizens. Think how strong you’ll look when you make this stand for the old North State. You’ll represent the future, Patty Mac. Isn’t that what every governor wants?

The establishment of the Matriarchy in North Carolina could be your legacy. We’ll have to work out the rules, of course, about what it means when you say that certain people can’t come to the state, but there’s plenty of time for all that. (I know you’re thinking we’ll need all that time and more because the ladies can take a good long while making up their minds, amirite?) I don’t want you to worry that there will be no place for you, Pat, there will be exemptions and exceptions, and anyone who has been neutered by the Legislature should be a shoo-in. Read More


In case you missed it yesterday, Taylor Batten of the Charlotte Observer authored a damning article about Gov. McCrory’s sudden reversal of course on Syrian refugees that took place on — what a surprise!– the same day several other Republican governors decided to stoke public fears about immigrants and attack the Obama administration.

As Batten points out, the McCrory administration was quite calm about the matter last Friday in response to a question about the refugees:

“’Prior to being given refugee status, an extensive security screening is conducted on each individual’ by the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, McCrory’s office replied.”

Seventy-two hours later, however, the tune had changed:

“At a press conference in Charlotte on Monday, however, McCrory said the state has little knowledge of what those background checks entail and that they have “vulnerabilities.” Because of that, McCrory said, Syrian refugees are not welcome in this state.

McCrory joins at least eight other GOP governors who on Sunday and Monday said they would not willingly accept refugees until the federal government tightened its vetting to ensure terrorists are not admitted.

‘I am now requesting that the president and the federal government cease sending refugees from Syria to North Carolina until we are thoroughly satisfied with the effectiveness of the federal background checks and security checks on such refugees entering our country,’ McCrory said at a press conference in Charlotte.”

The bottom line: McCrory’s flip flop clearly smacks of partisan political fear mongering. As Batten points out, if the administration has genuine and specific concerns about the federal oversight of refugees, then it ought to speak up and articulate them right away. At yesterday’s press conference, however, McCrory couldn’t do anything other than offer vague criticisms that sounded suspiciously as if they had been designed to appeal to nativists in his conservative base.

The truth of the matter is that people don’t get to enter the United States as “refugees” until they’ve been thoroughly vetted by federal immigration officials. McCrory knows this. And the notion that the the feds should somehow stop accepting genuine refugees and/or set up some kind of system in which state law enforcement officials would monitor these poor souls (as McCrory implied) is as mean-spirited as it is wasteful and just plain silly.

Let’s hope caring and thinking North Carolinians of all political stripes speak up forcefully and often in the days ahead to make clear that their Governor does not speak for them on this core issue of justice and human rights.

Click here to read Batten’s entire article.


In case you missed it, Dr. Silva Mathema of the Center for American Progress has authored a brief but scathing report of the new law targeting immigrants that Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to sign this afternoon in Greensboro. According to “North Carolina’s Dangerous Stance on Immigration Threatens Community Trust,” House Bill 318 has the potential to do enormous damage:

“The bill, known officially as the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” includes two provisions that would damage trust between the state’s extensive immigrant community and local government agencies, including law enforcement. H.B. 318 would prohibit North Carolina cities from passing community trust policies, known as sanctuary city ordinances, that seek to build trust by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with the federal government over civil immigration matters. The legislation would also prevent law enforcement and other government agencies from accepting identification cards issued by foreign governments, an option many law enforcement agencies use in their routine policing.”

The bill is, according to Mathema, of the same ilk as Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 of a few years back:

“The country has been down this road before and has seen the results of similar legislation in a number of states. In 2010, Arizona passed S.B. 1070, which authorized local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status during routine policing and raised concerns over institutionalized racial profiling. As a result, Latino businesses began to leave the area, and trust between law enforcement and the immigrant community eroded. A 2010 report by the Center for American Progress estimated that Arizona lost at least $141 million in revenue from conference cancellations in the first year alone. The Supreme Court struck down much of S.B. 1070 in 2012, and lower courts have followed suit by striking down similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah.

Although distinct from S.B. 1070, North Carolina’s H.B. 318 poses similar dangers, including having a chilling effect on immigrants and their loved ones. Local law enforcement officials rely on all residents for information to solve crimes; policies that weaken this relationship dissuade individuals from cooperating and ultimately make law enforcement more difficult. Given North Carolina’s history of active participation in programs that entangle local law enforcement in efforts to enforce federal immigration law, the state’s immigrant communities know all too well the harmful impact that these policies can have on their communities. Local government and law enforcement agencies have spent many years building positive relationships within the growing immigrant community; H.B. 318 would severely undermine these efforts.”

Dr. Mathema’s bottom line analysis: Read More


McCrory budgetThe word on the street is that Gov. Pat McCrory will put an exclamation point on a dreadful year of state lawmaking today by signing the controversial bill advanced in the waning days of the 2015 session that targets immigrants and recipients of food assistance. The Governor has announced that he will conduct a bill signing ceremony at 2:30 at the Guilford County Sheriff’s office and the expectation is that he will sign House Bill 318.

This is from the October 2 edition of the Fitzsimon File:

“And while he has the veto stamp out, he should also use on it House Bill 318 that passed in the legislative session’s waning days that would punish undocumented immigrants in the state and make it harder for thousands of families to afford enough to eat.

A letter from N.C. Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier asking McCrory to veto the bill points out that it takes authority away from how local communities interact with immigrants and gives local law enforcement agencies less flexibility.  McCrory, as a long time mayor, ought to understand that.

And as Glazier wrote to the governor, the bill was passed with disturbing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the debate on the House floor, where bill supporters described North Carolina being ‘overrun by illegal immigrants.’

The bill also punishes low-income families by banning the state from continuing to apply for waivers from the federal government that allow people in economic distressed parts of the state to receive food stamp benefits.

The bill would result in 100,000 people being denied food assistance next year, regardless of the economic conditions in their communities.”

Sadly, however, it appears common sense explanations like this and the pleas of thousands who have protested the bill have gone for naught. Unless the Governor is somehow overtaken by a last minute wave of human decency and compassion, North Carolina will add two more areas to the list in which it is home to some of the nation’s worst and most heartless state laws. All in all, it’s an apt way to close the legislative year.