The Obama administration's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States drew fierce opposition from dozens of U.S. governors and Congress members.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was "grossly irresponsible" and played into the hands of Islamic State militants by proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States, the United Nations human rights chief said on Tuesday.
Trump, currently the Republican Party's front-runner for the November 2016 election, compared his plan to the World War Two detainment of Japanese-Americans and others and dismissed on Tuesday growing outrage from around the world.
"Clearly while there's no love lost for those who perpetrate the violence and the killings of civilians, it's a double tragedy when the innocent have to suffer because of the reaction," U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told reporters.
"It's grossly irresponsible, given what the aim of the extremists is, to play into their hands at the expense of those who themselves - the vast majority of ordinary Muslims - would be viewed as eligible targets by these extremist groups," he said.
Trump on Monday called for blocking Muslims, including would-be immigrants, students, tourists and other visitors, from entering the country following last week's California shooting spree by two Muslims who authorities said were radicalized.
"At the very least, you expect that people running for public office will know enough of historical experience and the suffering of those who are going to fall in the crossfire if this escalation in rhetoric and passion eclipses calm and rational thinking about this," Zeid said.
The United Nations refugee agency said earlier on Tuesday that campaign rhetoric in the United States is harming a vital U.S. resettlement program for Syrian and other refugees fleeing war and persecution.
The Obama administration's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States drew fierce opposition from dozens of U.S. governors and Congress members following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.