BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he's opposed to allowing Syrian refugees into the state in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The Republican said Monday the safety of Massachusetts residents is his first priority. He said he would have to know a lot more about the federal government's vetting process before allowing Syrian refugees into the state — although he may not have the final say.
"I think at this point in time we would have to be very cautious about accepting folks without knowing a lot more about what the federal government's plan looks like," Baker said. "I would certainly say no until I know a lot more than I know now."
Baker added that he's going to "set the bar really high" on the question of accepting refugees.
"The safety and security of the people of the commonwealth of Mass. is my highest priority," he said. "I'm always going to be willing to at least hear what the federal government has to say. As a public official, that's my job. Hearing what they have to say does not mean saying yes."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh echoed Baker, saying he also wants to know more about the screening process.
Both Baker and Walsh said they've had no conversations with federal officials since the attacks.
"I think there's going to be opportunity for both the governor at the state level and the city to weigh in on this," Walsh, a Democrat, told reporters. "But right now ultimately it's the federal government's decision, and we don't have a say in the matter today."
In a written statement issued later Monday, Walsh said, "Should we be told that Boston is accepting refugees, we will work with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the safety of Boston residents."
Members of the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation said that while a strong vetting process is needed, Massachusetts should be willing to accept refugees.
"We should not close our hearts or our doors to the women, children and families that are fleeing the Middle East to escape war and the daily terror, violence and chaos it brings," U.S. Sen. Edward Markey said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. James McGovern said that while he agrees the state needs to be cautious in the wake of the Paris attacks, he has serious concerns about any policy that would shut the door to Syrian refugees.
"The people who are fleeing Syria are the very people who are harmed most by terrorism," he said. "Turning our back on these refugees now is not the answer."
Several governors are temporarily halting efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states, responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders.
One of the attackers in Paris had a Syrian passport, and the Paris prosecutors' office says fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.
Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country.
Under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities, according to Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration.