McCrory cited concerns of terrorists posing as refugees in order to infiltrate countries.
But Mark Weisburd, a professor in the UNC School of Law, said state governors have no power over immigration policy.
“There is no way the governor of North Carolina or any other state could prevent the federal government from allowing any particular group into the U.S.,” he said.
Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization for World Relief, said it is reasonable for government officials to have fear, but it is unreasonable to hinder the refugee resettlement process.
“The Unites States refugee resettlement program, which is a long standing program that has existed for decades going back to even before the Refugee Act of 1980, has admitted more than three million refugees into the United States,” he said. “None of those individuals have ever committed an act of terrorism in the U.S.”
Soerens said terrorists claiming to be refugees is a great way to double-victimize the refugees they already uprooted.
“If someone wanted to do harm to the United States, the refugee resettlement program would be the most difficult way for them to come into the country,” he said. “Because there are more thorough screenings in place than of any other category of visitor or immigrant in the U.S.”
The vetting process usually includes 18 months of screening even before refugees arrive in the United States, Soerens said. During this process, U.S. officials will interview a prospective refugee to ensure they are who they claim. The prospective refugees’ information is compared to databases and their stories are checked for accuracy.
Nashid Lateef, the vice-chairman of the Shura at the Islamic Association of Raleigh, said McCrory’s statements were unfortunate.
“I think (accepting Syrian immigrants) is very important because of the number of people that are now displaced. It’s going to be very important because if they don’t, people are going to die, not just from the war, but from just trying to survive,” he said.
Lateef, who knows some of the refugees from Syria, predicted it could be 20 years before things can become safe enough in Syria for people to live normal lives.
“I think that we should notice the big outcry about refugees coming here, from Syria or wherever, did not happen like this until a few days ago, because of what happened in Paris,” he said. “And I think it’s a response, it’s a reaction.”