Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas, participates in the fourth Republican debate Nov. 10 at the Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee, Wis. He announced plans to initiate legislation in Congress barring Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
CHARLESTON, S.C., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he plans to draft legislation barring Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States amid reports one of the attackers in Paris may have posed as a migrant.
While campaigning in Charleston, S.C., Monday, the Republican presidential candidate restated his belief Muslim refugees should settle in primarily Muslim countries, while Syrian Christians should be welcomed in the United States. He said the Christian refugees pose "no meaningful risk" of committing acts of terror.
Cruz offered no specifics or timetable for his plan to introduce the legislation in Congress.
His comments came in the wake of shootings and explosions last week in Paris, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility. The attacks Friday killed at least 129 people and reawakened a global urgency to stop terrorism.
Speaking Monday at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, President Barack Obama said allowing migrants into the United States based on their religion was "shameful."
"That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion," he said.
The United States has accepted 1,500 Syrian refugees this year and intends to permit 10,000 more in 2016.
Since the incidents in Paris, 27 U.S. governors have declared their opposition to settling Syrian refugees in their states. All but one of the governors are Republican.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was one of the first to make such an announcement Sunday.
"After full consideration of this weekend's attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way," he said.
Other governors used social media or formal letters to the White House to make their position clear.
Immigration is a federal and not state issue, but states have tactics to complicate the resettlement process. One is a decrease in state funding for resettling refugees.
"When push comes to shove, the federal government has both said Kevin Appleby, immigration policy director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the largest refugee resettlement program in the United States.