Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says it's up to the federal government to screen refugees and is calling for safeguards following deadly terror attacks in Paris.

But the Democrat in a statement Monday didn't say he'd block Syrian refugees from settling in Missouri.

Republican gubernatorial candidates suburban St. Louis businessman John Brunner, former state House speaker and U.S. attorney Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder want Nixon to do so. They cited safety concerns.

Eighteen Republican state senators similarly called to suspend Syrian refugee relocation.

The U.S. State Department's Refugee Processing Center says 29 Syrian refugees settled in Missouri from Jan. 1 through Monday.

The president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration says under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images