New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s running for president as a Republican, wrote in a letter to President Obama on Tuesday that he will “not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris.”
“I urge you to halt your plans to accept more Syrian refugees in the United States. I have no doubt that ISIS will try to exploit American humanitarianism to expose Americans to similar deadly risk,” Christie wrote in the letter.
Added Christie: “Instead, the United States should channel the compassionate urge to protect innocent lives to encouraging our allies in the region to accept these refugees with our support.”
Christie said he has directed the New Jersey Department of Human Services “not to participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees.”
“Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity,” Christie wrote. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
The debate over allowing refugees from war-stricken Syria, where ISIS has taken control of land, has been inflamed in recent days with the revelation at least one of the Paris attackers entered France with Syrian migrants.
A growing list of governors have made similar statements this week about not accepting refugees from Syria. (RELATED: Growing List Of Governors Say They Won’t Accept Syrian Refugees)
Governors, however, may not have the power to actually stop refugees from coming here. Therefore, some activists are pushing Congress to take action.
On Tuesday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called for a “pause” on the country’s willingness to accept Syrian refugees. (RELATED: Speaker Ryan On Refugees: ‘We Cannot Let Terrorists Take Advantage’ [VIDEO])
“Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion,” Ryan said. “This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So we think the prudent, the responsible, thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.”
Most Republican presidential candidates are expressing their opposition, citing security concerns. All the Democratic candidates say they’re still supportive of it.
During a press conference Tuesday, Obama reiterated his desire to allow Syrian refugees to enter the country. Scolding his critics, Obama called it “shameful” that some Republicans wanted to stop Muslims, but not Christians, from coming to America, dismissively calling it a “religious test.”