Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said ISIS is already in the United States and more are coming. “Well look, you’re right, eight Syrians were picked up in Texas trying to cross over illegally, and this is the consequence of the president refusing to enforce the law,” Cruz told radio host Glenn Beck last week. “We have a serious national security risk because our southern border is not enforced.”
About a year ago, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) insisted ISIS militants had already entered the United States through the Southern border. All available evidence suggested his claims were completely untrue -- even his fellow Republicans said they had no idea what Hunter was talking about -- and it quickly became apparent that the threat wasn't real.
Thirteen months later, Ted Cruz isn't going quite as far as Hunter, but he seems to have headed down a similar path. BuzzFeed reported yesterday on the senator's recent chat with Glenn Beck.
When the host asked Cruz if he believes ISIS terrorists are already in the United States. "Of course they are,” the Republican presidential hopeful responded, which is why he intends to "secure the border."
While Hunter claimed to have secret information that couldn't be substantiated, Cruz is simply making assertions that don't stand up well to scrutiny.
For example, asked about ISIS members, Cruz immediately referenced eight Syrians "picked up in Texas." What the senator neglected to mention is every relevant detail: those eight people were asylum seekers, not terrorists. The incident wasn't evidence of ISIS militants reaching American soil; it was evidence of ISIS victims pleading for safe harbor.
As for Cruz's insistence that the Obama administration is "refusing" to take border security seriously, I have a strong hunch the senator knows he's not telling the truth.
The factual details are not in dispute: President Obama has strengthened border security to levels unseen in decades, increasing Border Patrol personnel, and investing in drones, sensors, and related technology. The result has been a sharp drop in illegal immigration.
It's not surprising that Cruz is reluctant to applaud Obama's successes, but he shouldn't pretend some far-right fantasy is real, just to scare people to advance his own ambitions.
Postscript: In the same interview, the senator added that there are Syrian refugees "facing a humanitarian crisis," but they're out of luck because, as far as Cruz is concerned, the vetting process is inadequate. To date, the Texas Republican has not identified any specific shortcomings in the vetting system, which plenty of other GOP lawmakers agree is perfectly adequate.