Real estate mogul and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump raised concerns Wednesday about the U.S. accepting Christian refugees from Syria, charging that their faith could be hard to prove.
"I don't know if you can prove that they're Christian," said Trump at a press conference in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to CNN.
"You have to prove it. How are they proving it?" Trump asked. "I have a real concern that the people who are coming into this country are coming in, some for very bad purposes."
The recent terror attacks in Paris, in which at least 129 people have been killed, have brought U.S. foreign policy into sharp focus and sparked a controversy over how refugees fleeing Syria should be treated.
More than half of the nation's governors are now against a plan to accept 10,000 Syrians refugees into the country next year because at least one of the suspects believed to be involved in the Paris terrorist attacks entered Europe among the current wave of Syrian refugees.
The proposal to accept only Christian refugees has come from both GOP presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
A Bloomberg Politics national poll released Wednesday, however, shows that 64 percent of Americans want the U.S. government to stop allowing Syrian refugees or only admit the Christians.
According to Bloomberg, 53 percent of American adults in the survey conducted in the days immediately following the Paris attacks, say the U.S. should not continue with the program to resettle the 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Some 28 percent said they would keep the program with the screening process as it now exists, while 11 percent said they would prefer a limited program to accept only Syrian Christians while excluding Muslims.
On Monday President Barack Obama shot down the suggestion that only Christian refugees from Syria should be granted asylum.
"When I hear folks say that, well, 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's fleeing 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," said Obama at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. "That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion."
Obama then pointed to the advice of Pope Francis as an example of how lawmakers should respond to the refugee crisis.
"When Pope Francis came to visit the United States and gave a speech before Congress, he didn't just speak about Christians who were being persecuted, he didn't call on Catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith, he said protect people who were vulnerable," Obama continued. "And so, I think it is very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us."
French President Francois Hollande declared on Wednesday that despite the Paris attacks, his country would accept 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.