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.
“Some 30 governors across the country have stood together following the lead of Governor Abbott, standing together as one saying their obligation is to protect the safety and security of the citizens of Texas and the citizens of each of the states that have elected those governors,” Cruz said during a press conference with Abbott on Tuesday. “Those officials are doing their jobs. They’re honoring their commitments to the men and women who have elected them. We need a president who will do the same.”
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.”
#share#At the same time, Cruz broke ever-so-gently with rival Donald Trump’s more radical call for a temporary ban on all migration from Muslim countries, saying he disagreed with the idea but refusing to comment on its constitutionality. “I am focused on my policies and the solutions that I am proposing to the real problems in this country,” he said. “Certainly, in the media, there has been no shortage of criticism of Donald Trump and I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics.”
#related#Abbott, playing the role of good soldier, then interjected to boost Cruz’s proposals. “The Constitution mandates that the federal government of the United States must protect our citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic,” Abbott said. “The fact is, we have an enemy here and that is radical Islamic terrorism and that’s precisely what Senator Cruz is trying to address.”
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.