BURLINGTON, IA – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees is “in a word, lunacy” because they might be affiliated with ISIS and murder Americans.
The United States has agreed to welcome 10,000 refugees who have been displaced because of violence in Syria — a small number of those who need to be resettled. But in response to question at a campaign stop about Muslim extremism, Cruz discredited the U.S. government’s attempt to help those desperately in need in the Middle East.
“Right now, Barack Obama is proposing to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees,” the Texas senator said. “That is, in a word, lunacy. This refugee crisis is a humanitarian crisis, but it is a crisis of President Obama’s own creation.”
He continued, pointing out that 77 percent of the refugees who have gone to Europe are young men.
“Now that is an unusual demographic for a refugee crisis,” he said. “The director of national intelligence has said that among those refugees coming into Europe are no doubt ISIS terrorists. Now it makes no sense whatsoever to bring in ISIS terrorists coming to wage jihad and murder innocent Americans.”
But U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has never said that the refugees are “no doubt ISIS terrorists.” Instead, Clapper said that it’s a “huge concern” that ISIS could attempt to infiltrate the refugees, but he expressed confidence in the government’s ability to screen the refugee applicants, according to FactCheck.org. Cruz similarly misquoted Clapper in Michigan earlier this month.
The government has a screening process set up to ensure that the 10,000 refugees who are accepted do not pose a threat to Americans. According to a State Department official, the Syrians being considered for refugee status include the most vulnerable — female-headed households, victims of torture, LGBT people, or religious minorities — and they will all be interviewed and subjected to security checks and screenings by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense.
“Refugees go through the most robust security process of anybody who’s contemplating travel to the United States,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing last month.
But Cruz elicited a large applause from the Iowa crowd when he said we should resettle the refugees in “majority Muslim countries rather than bring them here to risk the safety and security of Americans.”
Judy Buescher, whose question about Sharia law in the United States prompted Cruz’s response about the refugees, told ThinkProgress that she is very concerned with Islamic extremists and Muslims in the country who abide by Sharia law. She said there are people in Des Moines, Iowa who follow Sharia law.
CREDIT: Kira Lerner
“The Muslim religion is not something that Americans could abide by,” she said. “The way Muslims take over countries is they come in, they multiply like crazy, they get elected into office and then they take over the country.”
She currently lives on a farm north of Burlington, Iowa and is working to educate the local Tea Party about the dangers of the Muslim community. She didn’t meet with any Muslims for her research, but she concluded that there is a real risk of extremists in Iowa. “A whole bunch of Muslims moved in and they gave them the whole area in Coralville,” an upper middle class suburb of Iowa City populated by university faculty and affiliates. “Non-Muslims don’t dare go in there,” she said.