×

Trump's Muslim ban unconstitutional: Foreign affairs chairman

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's renewed call, in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks, to temporarily ban Muslims from traveling to the U.S. would probably not pass legal muster, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said Wednesday.

"I think the thought we could have a religious test [for entrants] would be unconstitutional," said the California Republican, whose district includes parts of San Bernardino County, which suffered a deadly terrorist attack in December.

"[But] we need to address the problem in terms of foreign fighters who might come back in the United States," the congressman said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "We need to vet people who come in."

Royce said he has not endorsed any presidential candidate, but would support whomever becomes the Republican nominee. "I'm giving advice to any candidates who will take it, in terms of foreign policy."

The major problem with the war on terrorism in the U.S. and protecting the homeland stems from a lack of focus on the real problem, said Royce. "Without a strategic plan to take out ISIS, we are at risk." The terrorist group is operating in some 20 countries, he added.

He said world powers need to destroy ISIS in its stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, to convince would-be recruits that terrorism can be defeated. If ISIS can continue its message of "we can't be destroyed … on the virtual caliphate on the Internet," the risk of terrorism will persist, he said.

Royce advocates arming and supporting Kurdish and Sunni fighters to battle ISIS in the Mideast. "Wouldn't we be better situated today if Raqqa was overrun allied forces there, Arab forces, that wanted to see ISIS extinguished?" he asked.

Morning Squawk: CNBC's before the bell news roundup

Sign up to get Morning Squawk each weekday

Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and service. Privacy Policy.
Please enter a valid email address