Before the attacks in Paris, Ted Cruz (R-TX) had a different outlook on allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. As recently as February, he wanted the United States to continue accepting them and said he thought it could be done safely.
“We have to continue to be vigilant to make sure those coming are not affiliated with a terrorist, but we can do that,” Cruz said in a interview on Fox News that was on his website and was first picked up by the Huffington Post.
Cruz, the son of a Cuban refugee, said in that interview that the United States has “welcomed refugees – the tired huddled masses – that has been the history of the United States. We should continue to do so.”
The attacks in Paris, however, have apparently changed the presidential contender’s calculus. Cruz and other Republicans vying for the White House have rushed to distance themselves from Syrian refugees in a race to appear tough on national security. President Obama has blasted the field for its rhetoric. Cruz has challenged Obama to “insult me to my face.”
Cruz has been more sympathetic to Syrian Christians than to the Syrian Muslims he has said should be banned. He says that Syrian Christians are facing immediate persecution. This week Cruz penned his own legislation – “The Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act – in the Senate to block refugees from countries like Syria from coming to the United States. His rationale today is that there is no way for the U.S. government to monitor whether an individual might have ties to the Islamic State even though individuals are screened in a multi-agency process that often spans more than a year. Cruz told CNN Monday that “in light of what happened in Paris,” the president’s plan to continue accepting Syrian refugees to the United State is “nothing short of lunacy.”
Cruz’s bill includes a narrow exception, but according to a statement from his office, “the bill also mandates that the Secretary of Homeland Security may not admit any refugee based solely on the assertions of the refugee. DHS cannot simply take the refugee’s word for it.”