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By Alana Wise and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Ted Cruz, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said on Tuesday that he introduced legislation to give governors the ability to opt out of refugee resettlement programs.

Cruz said that if President Barack Obama wanted to send refugees to any state, his legislation would let its governor refuse to participate, “to conclude that the federal government has not done a sufficient job ensuring that the safety and security of the citizens of the state will be protected.”

The comments came at a news conference with Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Cruz’s home state of Texas. Abbott was one of the first U.S. governors to seek to block the resettlement of refugees from Syria.

Many Americans have worried that those refugees might include militants allied to the Islamic State. Such fears have intensified since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and last week’s killings in San Bernardino, California.

“We are at a time of war,” Cruz said.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation after the Paris attacks that would make it more difficult for refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq to enter the country. That measure has not yet come up in the Senate, although some lawmakers want it included in a massive spending bill Congress must pass in the next few days to keep the government open.

Congress’ Republican leaders have not yet disclosed their plans for the legislation.

Obama, a Democrat, plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, a decision many Republicans have opposed since it was announced in September.

Three Senate Democrats held a news conference on Tuesday with religious leaders who oppose including the House refugee measure in the spending bill.

“These refugees are not our enemies,” Senator Tim Kaine said. “They are fleeing our enemies.”

Cruz said he had also authored legislation to impose a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where Islamic State or al Qaeda controlled significant territory, and another measure that would strip U.S. citizenship from any American who traveled abroad to fight with militant groups.

Cruz also commended businessman Donald Trump, who is vying with him for the Republican nomination for president, for “standing up and focusing America’s attention on the need to secure our borders.”

Trump has proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States.

(Reporting by Alana Wise and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at a 2nd Amendment Coalition announcement at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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The baseless claim that the FBI may have planted evidence while carrying out a court-approved search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday has surged through right-wing media, as the former president’s allies continue their effort to turn their audiences against the probe and shield Trump from accountability.

The FBI searched the premises after obtaining a warrant from a federal magistrate judge and “removed a number of boxes of documents” as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump had illegally “taken a trove of material with him to his home at Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House that included sensitive documents – and then, in the Justice Department’s view, had failed to fully comply with requests that he return the disputed material,” the New York Times reported. Politico concluded after consulting with legal experts on the handling of classified documents that “it’s highly unlikely the DOJ would have pursued – and a judge would have granted – such a politically explosive search warrant without extraordinary evidence.”

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