Maybe the most important thing about Gov. Pat McCrory's decision to ask President Obama to cease sending Syrian refugees is this: it aroused an explosion of support.
Our Facebook post asking people to thank the governor for protecting the people has been shared thousands of times as of this morning and continues to grow, reaching many thousands beyond that. Our communications coordinator, Demi Dowdy, points out that this is by far and away 0ur most popular post ever over all social media channels.
This is a national story. By now more than half of the nation's governors have also called for action to stem the flow of refugees into their states.
Critics on the left jeer at the governors, saying that they have no power to bar immigrants from entering. Others say those, like McCrory, should have done more. McCrory, like some other governors, made it plain he was simply requesting that the federal government stop sending refugees here. But his and other governors' actions have far more impact than mere words.
First, McCrory and others by this action shine a spotlight on a major problem: Americans don't trust their leaders to properly control immigration of any kind. The issue isn't the refugees, it's that our own government has been lackadaisical in enforcing immigration law, or even complicit in undermining it. As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put it,“I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are proposed to be coming in, in order to protect the safety and security of the American people.”
More important, McCrory and the other governors by taking this action are crystallizing public opinion and making it into a political force. As my colleague Susan Myrick pointed out, this isn't a legal action, it's a political action. McCrory and the other governors are channeling public anger and anxiety — and that may be working.
According to USA Today: "Congressional Republicans moved Monday to try to block funding for President Obama's plan to bring more than 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., reflecting growing concerns by lawmakers that those refugees could include Islamic State terrorists."
Our governor and others, and apparently a huge swathe of the American people, aren't trying to rewrite the Constitution. But our officials aren't merely lawyers arguing over statutes; they are leaders, who inform us and at times direct the public. The governors are trying to prod the federal government to take real steps to keep us safe — not only today but in the future.
Speaking of leadership, an online search hasn't turned up news of how Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is running for governor, would address the issue. Matt Caulder of NC Capitol Connection is working to contact his office for comment.