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Obama: let in Muslim and Christian Syrian refugees; GOP Governors: no

AP

President Obama responded testily today to opponents of admitting Syrian refugees to the U.S., taking aim at some GOP presidential candidates for saying only Christian refugees should have asylum.

We don’t have religious tests for our compassion.

President Obama

Meanwhile, a growing number of Republican governors, including Texas’ Greg Abbott and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal announced they would not allow Syrian refugees into their states in light of reports that at least one of the suicide bombers in Paris had slipped into Europe from Syria as a refugee.

But Obama stood by U.S. plans to admit refugees fleeing the civil war and the insurgents known as ISIS in Syria.

“When I hear folks say that maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who is feeling from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Obama said at a press conference in Turkey where he was attending the G-20 summit.

“That’s not American. That’s not who we are.”

The White House has committed to accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Republican candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush both said over the weekend that Christian refugees would not pose a threat to the U.S. Although he did not cite him by name Obama appeared to single out Cruz, whose father fled Cuba.

Cruz told reporters Sunday in South Carolina: "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation.”

Bush told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, “There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They’ll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or by ISIS. And I think we should have — we should focus our efforts as it relates to the Christians that are being slaughtered.”

Abbott and Jindal joined the GOP governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts and North Carolina in opposition to relocating any Syrian refugees to their states.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory requested additional information about any refugees slated to go to his state. "My primary duty as governor is to keep the citizens of North Carolina safe," said McCrory at a press conference.

"Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the state of Texas,” said Abbott in a letter to Obama. “And I urge you, as president, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States."

Jindal issued an executive order to bar the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in Louisiana.

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