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Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump Jr. uses White House bowling alley Spicer trends worldwide on Twitter after first WH briefing Interior Dept. reactivates Twitter accounts after shutdown MORE's pick to lead the State Department, did not rule out the creation of a national registry of Muslims during his Wednesday confirmation hearing.
But Tillerson did say he would not support a "blanket-type" ban on all Muslim immigration into the United States.
Trump has regularly floated using a registry to track Muslims in America as a way to protect the country against potential acts of terror. But his staff regularly tries to tamp down those concerns in statements.
When pressed on the registry by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenTrump poised to reinstate 'global gag rule' on Roe v. Wade anniversary: report Trump country Dem takes risk by skipping swearing-in 5 billion reasons Rex Tillerson is wrong MORE (D-N.H.), Tillerson punted.
“I would need to have a lot more information around how such an approach would even be constructed,” he said.
“If it were a tool for vetting, it obviously extends to other groups as well that are threats to the U.S.”
Tillerson went on to add during the hearing that America will need to rely on peaceful Muslims across the world in its fight against terror, saying his travels throughout Muslim countries across the world have helped him to gain “an appreciation and recognition of this great faith.”
Trump's call for a Muslim registry echoes a George W. Bush administration-era program, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which created new check-in requirements for citizens of certain countries while in the United States. With the exception of North Korea, all of the countries had Muslim-majority populations. Many of the NSEERS requirements were suspended in 2011, with the program eliminated entirely last December.
Two Trump Cabinet picks have already raised concerns about the proposed registry in their hearings. Homeland Security pick and retired Gen. John Kelly said Tuesday that he wouldn't agree with a religion-based registry, while Trump's attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsThe new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch Justice requires higher standard than Sessions Cory Booker: It's now time to fight MORE (R-Ala.), said the registry would create constitutional issues.