The Obama administration is not backing off its plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in 2016, the State Department clarified Monday, despite the fact that several states threatened to block or suspend the program.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the government is "steadfastly committed" to that plan, CNN reported.
He added federal officials are taking "seriously" the states' concerns, and that he's not sure whether they have the legal authority to block the resettlements.
Earlier on Monday, Alabama and Michigan announced they would block the program to resettle Syrian migrants within their borders, citing major security concerns after Friday's wave of Islamic State (ISIS) terror attacks in Paris that left at least 129 murdered.
Those states were followed by the governors of 22 other states who announced they will not accept Syrian refugees, according to CNN.
Besides Alabama and Michigan, the states whose governors oppose Syrian refugees are, according to the news network:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
Several influential Republican House and Senate leaders were pushing, too, to block Syrian refugee resettlement.
Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican and influential chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the refugee program "should be suspended until the American people are satisfied that they know exactly who the president is admitting into the country via this program."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, took a more direct shot at Obama in previewing a Thursday subcommittee hearing on the Syrian refugee crisis.
"When will President Obama take ISIS threats seriously, as well as the warnings of national security officials within his own administration, and cease his plan to bring thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States?" Goodlatte said in a statement, quoted by CNN. "His disconnectedness to reality is needlessly jeopardizing national security and Americans' lives."
Significantly, at least one of the terrorists behind the six coordinated attacks in Paris apparently entered Europe via Greece as a Syrian "refugee".
Friday's attacks in Paris that left at least 129 dead and hundreds injured have raised fears of a similar assault by Islamist extremists on U.S. soil.
Obama announced in September that the United States would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 2016.