© Greg Nash
Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly 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 ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenPaid family leave proposal at risk Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals 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 SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE (R-Ala.), said the registry would create constitutional issues.