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Ted Cruz introduces new measure to limit Syrian refugees

The State Refugee Security Act, which was introduced on Tuesday, would allow governors to “opt out” of accepting refugees.

Reiterating that “ISIS and radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on America,” Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday urged Congress to pass legislation that would limit the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

“ISIS represents the face of evil,” Cruz told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill “Yet we have a commander-in-chief who is refusing to acknowledge the enemy, much less confront the enemy, much less do what it takes to defeat the enemy.”

“The American people want to see leadership in this country,” Cruz said. “They want to see America win again.”

Cruz called on Congress to take up and pass three pieces of legislation he has championed in as many months in order to keep Americans safe: The Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act, which would put in place a three-year moratorium on the resettlement of refugees coming from countries where ISIS controls a substantial amount of territory, such as Iraq or Syria; the Expatriate Terrorist Act, which would revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone who travels abroad to join ISIS; and a third measure -- the State Refugee Security Act, which was introduced on Tuesday -- that would allow governors to “opt out” of accepting refugees.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is suing the federal government to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the Lone Star State, was on hand Tuesday to praise Cruz’s legislation.

“My top priority as the governor of Texas is to keep the citizens of Texas safe,” Abbott said. “With Sen. Cruz’s new proposed act, I’m better equipped to accomplish that goal.”

Related: "Texas groups concerned refugee suspension violates religious freedom"

Cruz’s latest measure comes at at time of deep division over how to protect Americans from the threat of terrorism -- particularly in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, shooting massacre, which left 14 people dead last week and 21 injured. ISIS has described the two people who carried out the attack as “supporters” and “martyrs,” but officials have yet to determine an exact motive for the shooting and whether it was tied to an international terror network.

While Cruz has focused on a legislative approach to derailing the Obama administration’s pledge to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, GOP front-runner Donald Trump has taken a more extreme tack. On Monday, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Cruz told reporters Tuesday he disagreed with Trump’s proposal, but refused to criticize the real estate mogul beyond that.

“I like Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “A lot of our friends here have encouraged me to criticize and attack Donald Trump. I’m not interested in doing so. But I believe we need a plan that is focused on the direct threat. And the threat we're facing is radical Islamic terrorism.”

Asked whether he’d support Trump were he to win the Republican nomination, Cruz said before leaving the room: “I will absolutely support the nominee, but I hope and intend for that nominee to be me.”