KALAMAZOO, Michigan (AP) — Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz lashed out Monday against the Obama administration’s plan to accept refugees from war-torn Syria, calling it “nothing short of crazy” because he believes some are Islamic State group terrorists.
“There is a reason the director of national intelligence said among those refugees are no doubt a significant number of ISIS terrorists,” the Texas senator told a crowd of hundreds in a Michigan campaign stop, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people including jihadists that are coming here to murder innocent Americans.”
In fact, National Intelligence Director James Clapper has not confirmed that the refugee wave includes significant numbers of terrorists.
He has spoken of the risk of terrorists mingling in, saying last month: “We don’t obviously put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees.” ISIL is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Clapper said the U.S. was aggressively screening the small number of Syrian refugees it has accepted.
The Obama administration said it intends to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees and increase the overall number of refugees allowed into the country from around the world to 85,000 in the next 12 months. That total would increase to 100,000 by 2017. The U.S. now accepts up to 70,000 refugees per year.
Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, is talking with federal officials about what the state can do about accepting more refugees from Syria and building on more than a century of Arab immigration to the state.
Cruz was campaigning ahead of Michigan’s March 8 presidential primary.