Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz held a joint press conference in Washington, D.C. to introduce the State Refugee Security Act of 2015. They say the act empowers states to ensure the safety and security of its citizens by blocking the resettlement of refugees within its borders.
In a press release, Sen. Cruz says the State Refugee Security Act will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit the governor of a state to reject the resettlement of a refugee in that state unless there is adequate assurance that the refugee does not present a security risk.
Sen. Cruz's legislation will require the federal government to notify a state at least 21 days before a refugee is resettled there. Also, it prohibits the resettlement of a refugee in a state if the governor certifies that the federal government has failed to provide adequate assurance that the refugee does not present a security risk to the state.
"This legislation will protect the authority of the states and the authority of the governors to keep their citizens safe. Some 30 governors across the country have stood together with Gov. 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. Those officials are doing their jobs. I applaud them and Gov. Abbott for honoring their commitments to the men and women who elected them," Sen. Cruz said. "It is my hope that Congress will take up and pass into law the legislation that I introduced today that gives the governors the ability to opt out if the federal government is not sufficiently vetting refugees."
Governor Abbott also released a statement saying, "“America is a charitable nation. But we cannot allow charity for some to compromise security for all. 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.”
To read the full State Refugee Security Act of 2015, you can go here (pdf).
Since the Paris attacks, both Abbott and Cruz have been strong opponents of letting Syrian refugees resettle in Texas and in the U.S.
Texas already has a lawsuit pending against the federal government and resettlement agencies to keep Syrian refugees from coming to Texas.
On December 7, 12 Syrian refugees were scheduled to arrive in Dallas after state officials were reportedly satisfied with their background checks. Another nine refugees are set to arrive in Houston on Thursday.
Before the Paris attacks, Texas took in nearly 300 Syrian refugees.
Advocates say shunning refugees because of terrorism fears is ignorant and misguided.