Cruz's comments on Tuesday echo statements from some conservatives following the terrorist attacks in Paris last year. After Donald Trump said he would be willing to shut down mosques in an effort to combat terrorism, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he would be open to closing "any place where radicals are being inspired."
Following the Texas senator's initial remarks, Cruz's presidential campaign issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon detailing Cruz's proposal for greater law enforcement focus on Muslim communities. The campaign said that law enforcement should "identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes." The campaign also railed against Obama for being too politically correct:
We know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighborhoods in Europe. If we want to prevent it from happening here, it is going to require an empowered, visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes.
Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies all have divisions that target threats like drugs, gangs, human trafficking, and organized crime. Radical Islamic terrorism is a significant and growing threat to this country, but this administration refuses to recognize it because they are afraid of being labeled ‘politically incorrect.’ In New York City, Mayor de Blasio succumbed to unfounded criticisms and eliminated efforts of law enforcement to work with Muslim communities to stop radical Islamic terrorism.
Ted Cruz will never allow political correctness to drive decisions about our security. Innocent, peaceful Americans, no matter their faith, deserve to live in safe neighborhoods; that is what law enforcement exists to do, and that includes preventing radical Islamic terror cells from taking root in them. The police should have every tool available to follow leads and take action against those who would do us harm. That is what Cruz is calling for and it is the basic responsibility of our elected leaders — to prioritize the safety of our citizens.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Tuesday denounced Cruz's call for more law enforcement in Muslim communities.
"It’s really beyond belief that you have one of the leading presidential candidates calling for law enforcement to target religious communities totally based on the fact that they are of a particular faith," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Washington Post. "In normal times, this would be the sort of thing that would disqualify someone from running for dogcatcher, much less president of the United States. We call on voters to reject this. It just shows you what happens when you appoint policy advisers like Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin to your team."
In his Tuesday statement, Cruz also called for the U.S. to stop accepting refugees from countries with large presences from groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda and for the government to "secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration."
He also addressed the Brussels attacks in a Tuesday press conference in Washington, D.C., where he said that the U.S. needs to change its immigration policies, specifically discussing the visa waiver program.
"The attack in Brussels is in many ways the fruit of a failed immigration policy in Europe that has allowed a massive influx of radical Islamic terrorists into Europe. Europe is in the process of allowing policies to fundamentally threaten the safety and security of its citizens. That is a mistake," he said during the press conference. "The visa waiver program was designed for a different era when those from Europe were not perceived to be threats."