Senator Ted Cruz has unveiled a bill to allow governors to bar the placement of Syrian refugees in their states, citing the difficulty that the Department of Homeland Security faces in attempting to vet the refugees for potential terrorist ties.
Cruz introduced the State Refugee Security Act alongside his former boss, Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who said that his office reached out to the freshman senator about the proposal last week. The bill would give governors total discretion to bar refugees from their states by concluding that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had failed to “to provide adequate assurance” that a given refugee was not a security threat.
The move marks Cruz’s foray into a debate between 30 governors who tried to opt out of the Syrian refugee program and President Obama’s administration, which responded by threatening to withhold federal funding from the governors’ states. It comes just as 21 Syrian refugees arriving in Texas, and it’s part of the senator’s three-prong antidote — along with previous legislation to strip Americans who join terrorist groups of their U.S. citizenship and to block refugees who hail from countries that have a significant terrorist presence — to what he calls Obama’s “politically correct blindness.”
“When you have President Obama telling the nation that the Islamic State isn’t Islamic, that’s just nutty,” he told reporters. “That’s not reasoned, interesting foreign-policy debate, that is nutty. They are explicitly an Islamic caliphate. [And] they have stated their intention to wage jihad and forcibly convert or murder anyone they regard as infidels, which is most of the world.”
Cruz promised to use “every legislative tool” available to push his national-security bills, but he didn’t explicitly vow to stage a filibuster or provoke a government shutdown next week if his bill is not included in the omnibus government-funding package. “I will continue to press using the procedural tools that are available to a senator,” he said.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.