WASHINGTON (KXAN) — Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz announced on Tuesday he will propose a bill that allows Texas Governor Greg Abbott or any governor to ban Syrian refugees from entering their state.
In a joint news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz both reiterated the fact that they want to keep their citizens safe.
“This week at least 21 Syrian refugees are scheduled to arrive in Texas, perhaps hundreds more anticipated to arrive in the next year,” says Cruz. “This makes no sense. We should not be bringing in refugees when our own FBI tells us we cannot ascertain whether or not they are ISIS terrorists.”
The legislation Cruz introduced would require the federal government to alert states a minimum of 21 days prior to refugee resettlement.
Cruz also introduced legislation that would impose a 3-year moratorium on refugees coming from counties where ISIS or Al Qaeda control a substantial amount of territory. The second part of the legislation allows states and governors to opt out of accepting certain refugees if it is believed they could pose a security threat.
“Congress intended to give sates a substantial role in the refugee resettlement process. The federal government and resettlement agencies have sidestepped that role. My top priority as Governor is to keep Texas citizens safe and this legislation helps me do that,” says Abbott.
Sen. Cruz already submitted a plan to ban refugees coming from countries where ISIS or Al Queda controls territory.
“This is legislation that is targeted directly at the problem,” he said.
Sen. Cruz would not rule out trying to hold up a major budget agreement to get his new bill, called the State Refugee Security Act, passed. If the budget agreement doesn’t pass by Friday, the government will shut down.
“I will continue to press using the procedural tools that are available to a senator,” he said.
President Obama still plans to allow thousands of Syrian refugees into the U.S. after they go undergo background checks that take up to two years to complete.
Abbott and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana are among more than two dozen Republican governors who said they would refuse any new Syrian refugees following the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks, which have been linked to the Islamic State group operating in Syria.