WASHINGTON — Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz joined Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday morning at the Capitol to announce new measures that will help his state's efforts to temporarily stop Syrian refugees from resettling in Texas.
In a press conference, Cruz, whose presidential bid is gaining momentum in Iowa, said he introduced a bill earlier Tuesday that that would give governors the ability to opt out of the refugee resettlement program if the federal government decides to send refugees to their state. He has also proposed a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where terrorist groups ISIS and al-Qaeda control a substantial amount of territory.
“If the commander-in-chief won’t act, then it’s incumbent upon Congress to act,” Cruz said. “There are great many American people that are eager for the final year of the Obama presidency to come to an end. But in the meantime, Congress has an obligation to keep America safe.”
The conservative firebrand also mentioned another bill he said he has tried to bring to the Senate floor in recent weeks. The measure would require U.S. citizens who travel abroad to train with ISIS to give up their citizenship.
Cruz's comments come after the Obama administration last week opposed Texas' request for a temporary restraining order stopping Syrian refugee resettlement in the state. Texas withdrew its request but asked for a hearing on or before Dec. 9 on the preliminary injunction request it made in the case.
Two six-person Syrian refugee families arrived in Abbott’s state Monday to be resettled in Dallas and Houston. Another Syrian family and a 26-year-old woman will arrive in the state later this week.
Abbott is one of 31 state governors who announced they would stop resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“America is a charitable nation, but we cannot allow charity for some to compromise the safety for all,” Abbott said during the press conference. "That is what has happened by the way the federal government has interpreted and applied the Refugee Act that already exists."
Cruz and Abbott held their press conference the day after fellow GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S. altogether. Cruz was repeatedly questioned during the press conference about Trump’s proposal rather than the measures he introduced.
“I disagree with that proposal," Cruz said. "I like Donald Trump. A lot of our friends here have encouraged me to criticize and attack Donald Trump, but I am not interested in doing so. I believe we need a plan that is focused on the direct threat, and the threat we are facing is radical Islamic terrorism."
When pressed on Trump's proposal again, Cruz said: "Certainly in the media there's been no shortage of criticism for Donald Trump. And I don't believe the world needs my voice to be added to the chorus of critics, and listen, I commend Donal Trump for standing up and focusing American's attention on the need to protect our borders. Border security is national security."