- - Thursday, November 19, 2015

The self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has emerged as the new face of the radical terror that has bedeviled the West in recent decades. As the American people are now painfully aware in the wake of ISIS’s murderous rampage in Paris last Friday, they have apparently now directly threatened both Washington and New York. Their attacks and threats serve as reminders that ISIS can and, given time and opportunity, will strike the West again.

This jihadist organization is intentionally infiltrating the flood of refugees that are currently entering Europe through Turkey, Greece, and points west. Rather than taking the threat seriously, President Obama has doubled down on his dangerous open-borders policies by proposing to welcome thousands of refugees who have potentially been infiltrated by terrorists to the United States. This headlong rush toward a careless policy comes just weeks after FBI Director James Comey told Congress, in no uncertain terms, that our government lacks the tools to properly screen these refugees.

Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, more than 2,100 refugees from Syria have already been admitted to the United States. President Obama now wants to accept at least 10,000 more this fiscal year. That’s roughly a third of the 34,000 total refugees President Obama proposes to accept from the Near East and South Asia.

This policy makes no sense. Given the existential nature and scope of the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism, the limitations on our ability to screen the flood of refugees, and the obligations of our government to provide for the safety and security of all Americans, we simply cannot accept refugees from countries that have a significant terrorist presence until the terrorist threat has been eliminated.

As an unapologetic proponent of legal immigration, it brings me no pleasure to advocate for limiting the flow of refugees to America. But the first duty of our government, which President Obama and Hillary Clinton are ignoring, is to protect the American people. And if that means temporarily suspending the admission of high-risk refugees from countries beset by jihadist groups, then so be it.

This is why I have introduced the Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act of 2015. This constitutionally sound, common-sense measure would immediately bar any refugee who is from any country that contains territory controlled in substantial part by ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other designated foreign terrorist organization ascribing to the radical, totalitarian Islamism dedicated to the destruction of the United States and our allies, and whose proponents find anyone who does not share their faith—from couples dining in cafes to Jews shopping in a kosher market to satirical cartoonists—equally offensive. The bill specifically names Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen as countries from which refugees cannot be accepted, and empowers the State Department to identify and designate additional countries as potential sources of terror.

It is important to note this refugee ban would be temporary. It would sunset after three years, and allow Congress to reevaluate the global situation and make necessary adjustments, or let the law expire. It would in no way prevent the United States from providing assistance to humanitarian disasters in a way that is consistent with our national security.

The bill would also allow a narrow exception to the refugee ban in cases that involve victims of genocide like the Yazidis and certain Christian sects, including Assyrians, who, amazingly, still speak a form of Aramaic that is believed to have been spoken by Jesus Christ. This exception would only be available for the severest cases of persecution, and would require a high bar of proof.

The American people already know the truth President Obama will not utter, which is that the threat we face is radical Islamic terrorism, not random violence. The fact of the matter is that no Christian or Yazidi has systematically executed concert-goers while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Pretending all the refugees are equally likely or unlikely to commit terrorist acts prevents us from helping those we can while protecting ourselves from a real threat. And the insistence of the Obama Administration that the terrorist threat is “not Islamic” gives no confidence that any screening mechanism they would design would actually identify the radical Islamic terrorists whose stated goal is to murder Americans.

After the horror of Paris, it would be downright reckless not to take basic steps to protect ourselves from the threat of terrorist infiltration. It takes just one jihadist to cause enormous damage and take countless lives. This is a small, first step toward protecting America, and I will never apologize for defending this nation.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. 

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