Billboard in North Carolina referencing Syrian refugees sparks controversy

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Billboard in Murphy, North Carolina
Billboard in Murphy, North Carolina

MURPHY, N.C. -- A billboard in Murphy, North Carolina is adding fire to the debate over allowing Syrian refugees into America.

It reads, "Give me your tired, your poor. Keep your Syrian refugees." It was put up by the owner of Cherokee Guns just down the road, according to WLOS in Asheville.

He identifies himself as Doc and says there's no way to vet thousands of refugees fleeing oppression in Syria and have assurance no terrorists are among them.

"I didn't put the billboard up on any kind of hate type bias," Doc said. "It was just something that was my opinion...what's going on in the world today. We really need to take care of our own before we take care of all these refugees," he says.

"They should keep them. Don't send them here. We can't afford them," Murphy resident James Falvo said.

"If it were up to me they wouldn't be over here," Waylon Carswell said.

"Orphaned children I would agree on if it was necessary. But as adults, men, women, they can pretty much stay over there," Raven Ewing said, who was visiting from Georgia.

Doc says there's too much unknown about Syrian refugees to accept them into America.

"How do we vet these people? We can't. We can't. We're at war with the Syrian government," Doc said.

Doc says more attention is needed on people here.

"We've got vets, homeless, needy people...and it's the holidays ... Instead of bringing them here, NATO needs to get involved and set up camps, safe camps."

While many on the street say Doc is on target with his beliefs and billboard, others say America stands for accepting the disenfranchised.

Eddie Walker Jr. said conduct background checks on the Syrian refugees.

"I say you have to do your real homework and if they're not Jihadists, then you have to kind of open your heart," Walker Jr. said.

Doc says he respects all opinions but says too many security questions remain. ABC News reports that 94 percent of more than 2,200 people on an FBI terrorist watch list in the last decade, were able to legally buy a gun in America.

"It's not right," Doc said. "If you're on a terror watch list you shouldn't be able to buy a gun."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is calling on Congress to close what she calls this "dangerous loophole". Past measures have failed due to opposition from the gun lobby.

Read more from WLOS.