- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday that recent rhetoric about Muslims by 2016 GOP presidential candidates has been “counterproductive” to the United States’ homeland security and national security interests.

“I think that, in this phase, it is critical that we build bridges to American Muslim communities, not vilify them, not drive them into the shadows, and encourage them to work with us,” Mr. Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Johnson was asked about Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who recently called for stricter law enforcement patrols in Muslim neighborhoods to stamp out Islamic extremism in the wake of the Brussels attacks. Last year, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump had proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks.

“I believe that inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Cruz has cited an New York Police Department program that reportedly surveilled parts of the city’s Muslim community as an example of what he was talking about, which sparked a back-and-forth with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton in recent days.

Mr. Bratton had written over the weekend that the unit was purposed to map the ethnic makeup of the city to better understand the domain of the New York metro area, and its work was finished.

“[W]e do not single out any populace, black, white, yellow or brown for selective enforcement,” Mr. Bratton wrote in the New York Daily News. “We do not ‘patrol and secure’ neighborhoods based on selective enforcement because of race or religion, nor will we use the police and an occupying force to intimidate a populace or a religion to appease the provocative chatter of politicians seeking to exploit fear.”

“Bratton has a difficult job, and I am grateful for all he does to keep the people of New York safe,” Mr. Cruz wrote Monday in response. “I also understand that politically, he has no choice but to implement the de Blasio-Obama liberal agenda. But his explanation for dismantling the unit makes no sense; it ignores the nature of the threat that we face from radical Islam.”

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