by Eric Ginsburg
One day after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory — and many other Republican governors throughout the country — expressed his opposition to resettling Syrian refugees in this state, someone phoned in a threat to a local resettlement agency.
Yesterday morning, someone called in a threat directed towards the staff of Church World Service in Greensboro, an agency active with refugees from Syria and several other nations, Church World Service’s Greensboro office Director Stephanie Elizabeth Adams said.
“We received a call in the morning and one of our staff members picked up the phone,” Adams said. “I don’t want to state what they said, I don’t think that it’s wise to share all of that information, but they did basically warn us.”
The caller didn’t specifically mention Syrian refugees, but did express anger that the agency is resettling “terrorists,” she said. Adams called the sentiment “discriminatory” and emphasized that refugees go through a rigorous process in their hopes to come to a safe haven in the United States and shouldn’t be “harassed” or “persecuted” all over again.
Classes scheduled yesterday were canceled and staff were not in the office today, but Adams said they will continue to get work done and will not be deterred. Church World Service informed police, as well as a local contact with the FBI, she said.
“We just have to take it seriously, you know, we just can’t take a chance,” Adams said, adding that it’s better to be cautious.
But today things went smoothly, and a case manager picked up a family arriving at the airport and brought them to their new home. Meetings and a training, already planned off site, went forward as well.
“We did our work but we did it out of the office today,” Adams said. “These threats aren’t going to keep us from serving refugees and resettling refugees.”
Adams said Church World Service in Greensboro has only received one other negative call — though it was not a threat like the one yesterday morning — but there have been “hundreds of positive, supportive calls” and “lots of emails from people who are wanting to be supportive in any way they can.”
Specifically, there have been many offers to volunteer to help newly arriving Syrian refugees, Adams said. She expressed appreciation for the general outpouring of support, and also encouraged people to call their representatives and express support for refugee resettlement.