As a concerned North Carolinian, I wrote a (humorous) note to my senator regarding the threat of terrorists in NC.
(I posted this earlier on my personal facebook, and someone suggested to me that y'all might like it. Enjoy!) Dear Senator Thom Tillis, My name is [Legal Name]. I'm a 21 year old student at the University of North Carolina, and I am a registered voter who resides in Carrboro, NC. I just recently became aware (via a WRAL local/triangle area report) that both senator Richard Burr and yourself oppose the continuation of Syrian refugee placement in North Carolina "until people's backgrounds could be substantiated." I sympathize with your concern for legitimating the backgrounds and identities of potential refugees in North Carolina. It makes logical sense that any refugees seeking entry into the United States should be subject to a process which verifies their background and identity. I agree that any individual from a foreign country who seeks to live temporarily or permanently in the US should have their background substantiated. Thankfully this is why potential refugees from any nation must first apply for refugee status through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which determines whether or not an individual qualifies for refugee status. After the UNHCR decides that a refugee should qualify for residency in the United States, that refugee’s application is processed by the Resettlement Support Center. Then, that individual is subjected to an intensive screening process during which they are interviewed, medically evaluated, and screened for any potential threat which they may pose to the safety of America. Knowing that the average processing time (across all nationalities) for refugee applications in the United States is 18 to 24 months, it seems to me like there will be plenty of time for our national government to “substantiate the backgrounds” of Syrian refugees, as is done with all refugees. According to president Obama, the population of Syrians who will potentially be allowed to enter the United States next year will be around 10,000. I find this number to be relatively small, and furthermore I believe that the federal government is more than capable of screening such a relatively low number of individuals within a year’s time. I am writing this letter to bring to your attention one of my concerns which I believe is often overlooked, but far more pressing: there are far too many Canadians in the United States with unsubstantiated backgrounds. The influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created an environment in which it is relatively easy for Canadians to reside in the United States on temporary visas. According to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, the average wait time for a Canadian to acquire an appointment for a nonimmigrant visa (not a visitor visa or a student/exchange visa) at the United States Embassy/Consulate in Toronto is 15 days. The average processing time for those aforementioned visas is 2 business days. At the United States Embassy/Consulate in Quebec, the appointment wait time is only one week and the average processing time is 3 business days. Even more shocking, in 2006, nearly 65,000 Canadians were working in the United States on temporary employment visas. Many Canadian immigrants in the United States obtain lawful permanent residence (also known as a “green card”) as either relatives of US citizens, or as employment-sponsored immigrants. In 2012, the total population of lawful Canadian immigrants living in America exceeded 800,000 people. This number does not include the estimated 65,000-75,000 undocumented Canadians who, according to a 2008 report by the Urban Institute, currently live in the United States. Now I must bring your attention a disappointingly overlooked threat to American lives: Canadian-born terrorists. Saad Gaya, a 27-year-old man born in Montreal, was a Canadian citizen and member of the “Toronto 18” terrorist group who pleaded guilty to having participated in a 2006 al-Qaeda inspired bomb plot. Another Canadian citizen by the name of Farah Shirdon, age 22, appeared in an ISIS propaganda video in which he threatens Canada and the United States, saying “we are coming and we will destroy you…we are going for you, Barack Obama.” Although a Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued, Canadian authorities have yet to locate Shirdon due to the fact that he has recently fled Canada. By now, you may already see the point that I am trying to make. Canadian culture is obviously conducive to the radicalization of native-born Canadian citizens, who must naturally become terrorists. My aforementioned examples clearly illustrate this. I have also shown that there exist droves of potentially dangerous native Canadians living inside the United States at this very moment. Given that the screening process for Canadians seeking a visa to work or live in America is so relatively undemanding, thousands of native Canadians will likely creep their way into the United States this coming year – with less than a month’s time devoted on average to ensuring their lack of terrorist sympathies! Before the United States federal government concerns itself with the careful and methodical process of admitting Syrian refugees, wouldn’t you agree that North Carolinians deserve to be protected from the ever-present threat of Canadians in our midst? Our security is at risk until all Canadians crossing into the United States are subjected to the same stringent background-checking protocol which already applies to refugees. This issue is personal for me. A Canadian citizen who possesses an American workers visa is currently renting the upstairs bedroom in my home. Although he can provide all the necessary paperwork to prove that he is legally permitted to live and work in North Carolina, I am not entirely certain that this Canadian has undergone nearly enough screening for me to feel safe that he is not a terrorist. Soon though, my anxiety will be alleviated due to the fact that my Canadian roommate plans to leave North Carolina around the end of this month. Suffice it to say, I would feel very safe living amongst Syrian refugees in North Carolina. After all, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner has described security screening for refugees as “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.” I urge you and senator Richard Burr to support the placement of Syrian refugees in North Carolina. Furthermore, I would adamantly suggest that all of my elected North Carolina representatives who are concerned with potential terrorist threats support rigorous background-checking procedures for Canadian citizens seeking to enter the United States. It is a national embarrassment that our federal process of examining Canadian guest workers and emigrants does not more closely resemble the background-checking procedures that are applied to refugees. I would therefore like to personally offer my soon-to-be-vacant upstairs bedroom as an available placement location for a Syrian refugee. Although you may feel that my offer represents a security threat to North Carolinians, I assure you – as someone who has been living under the same roof as a Canadian and has so far come to no harm – that the safety of our great state and its freedom-loving people will not be compromised by the settlement of a couple Syrian refugees. We have a far larger problem of the Northern variety on our hands.