GOLDFIELD, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for a "retroactive assessment" of refugees already in the country in the wake of terror arrests that reportedly involve two refugees from Iraq.
"There is no doubt we need a retroactive assessment of refugees who have been admitted into this country," Cruz told reporters after a campaign stop here. "We need to systematically examine the national security threats, and I’ll tell you one of the greatest challenges with the Obama administration assessing security risks is the bizarre, the indefensible political correctness of refusing to acknowledge what it is we're fighting."
Cruz said he wants such an assessment to focus "on those coming from countries with high concentrations of radical Islamic terrorism, high concentrations of Al Qaeda or ISIS or Hamas or Hezbollah."
Asked to clarify exactly what the retroactive assessment would look like, Cruz said, "We need to see a systematic and careful retroactive assessment of refugees brought in from high risk countries, to examine the public record, to examine all of the evidence that might indicate whether these individuals have ties to radical Islamic terrorism. What communications, what statements have they
made, what actions have they done."
Cruz mentioned Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who posted on YouTube a "call to jihad," Cruz said. Tsarnaev's YouTube account featured two videos showing a Dagestani jihadist. (The Tsarnaevs were not technically refugees; their parents received asylum.) Cruz also brought up Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan (who is American-born) as an example of "the deadly consequences of this political correctness," saying the Obama administration knew Hassan communicated with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki but did nothing. He also mentioned San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik, who got through the vetting process for a fiancée visa.
Federal authorities announced on Thursday that two terror-related arrests had been made in Sacramento and in Houston. The Sacramento suspect reportedly came to the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2012, and is accused of lying to authorities about traveling to Syria to fight. The Houston suspect, also a refugee from Iraq who came in 2009, is charged with seeking to provide material support to ISIS.
Cruz also called for Congress to pass three pieces of legislation he has introduced that would bar all refugees from areas that are significantly controlled by terrorist groups, allow governors to opt out of accepting Syrian refugees into their states, and revoke the U.S. citizenship of Americans fighting for terror groups. So far, Cruz's legislative efforts have not come to fruition.
Cruz said the arrests underscore "how utterly indefensible President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s proposal is to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into this country" is.
The refugee crisis this past year, one of the byproducts of the long and bloody Syrian civil war, made the question of accepting Syrian refugees into the U.S. one of the most contentious issues in the presidential election. The most extreme position was taken by Donald Trump, who has called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration into the U.S.