HENDERSON, Nevada -- As opposition to accepting refugees from war-torn Syria into the United States grows in the aftermath of last week's French terrorist attacks, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson Monday called for legislation to defund any "ongoing federal programs that seek to resettle refugees and/or migrants from Syria into the United States, effective immediately."
"There is currently no ability to vet these people and by doing so, we are putting America at risk," Carson said at a last-minute news conference here. "If our president cannot see the risk, then we must rise to the challenge and protect our country."
As thousands of people fled from regions in the Middle East and Africa, the Obama administration in September announced the United States would take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to help share the burden with European countries.
Carson has been a vocal opponent of accepting refugees for months, saying in October that despite his compassion, "I'm not all that anxious to bring in a bunch refugees from Syria who would likely be infiltrated with jihadists." Instead, Carson says he's more willing to settle those fleeing the war-torn country, "in that area of the world."
In his letter to congress Carson writes, "The national security of the American people demands that the Congress swiftly extinguish any programs that might allow an ISIS terrorist to infiltrate the United States disguised as a refugee or migrant."
When asked by NBC News his plan to deal with the almost 2,000 Syrian refugees already accepted by the United States, Carson said he would monitor and "watch them very carefully that's for sure." Asked if that included the FBI or the CIA, Carson responded, "just like the Tsarnaev brothers were monitored, except you got to be able to pull the trigger."
President Obama defended his administration's plan to continue accepting refugees Monday morning, while speaking to the media after a G-20 meeting in Turkey. Obama noted that many of the Syrian refugees are people fleeing from terrorism themselves, and said "slamming the door on these refugees would be a betrayal of our values"
Carson, reading a statement from his iPhone, pushed back on the idea that America should be responsible for accepting "these refugees."
"He is wrong," Carson said. "He took an oath to protect and defend this country, there simply is not a way to vet these refugees."