Posted by Kevin Hack on March 29, 2016 in Blog

Wouldn’t it be the greatest stroke of irony if the United States Refugee Resettlement Program was shut down by the child of a refugee that resettled in the United States? Senator Cruz doesn’t think so. Or maybe he does and just believes that the universe is guided by ironic twists of fate.

Last week, after calling for the policing and surveillance of all Muslim communities, a statement which out-controversy-ed even Donald Trump, Senator Cruz issued a letter to the Departments of State and Health and Human Services (HHS) insinuating poor performance on the part of the Refugee Resettlement Program in his home state of Texas. Citing a report from the Government Accountability Office (released in July 2012), Sen. Cruz’s letter highlights the need for increased consultation of local partner communities. The last of nine points in his letter recalls an ongoing court dispute between the State of Texas and the federal government over the state’s effort to block a single Syrian family due to lack of coordination with the state. Sen. Cruz conveniently neglects, though you might remember, Governor Greg Abbott’s statement in November that Texas would not cooperate with the refugee resettlement program. So just possibly, in this case, the federal government may not be at the root of the problem.

Sen. Cruz has a history of politicizing the Syrian refugee crisis. At the crossroads of excluding refugees, violating privacy, and promoting Islamophobia is the list compiled by Sen. Cruz, along with Senator Jeff Sessions, highlighting 113 “radicalized terrorists” and inquiring into their immigration status. The list is also ripe for criticism in its criteria, often using material support for a terrorist organization, which could, depending on the time of a group’s designation, include contributing to a decent number of charitable organizations in Gaza or Lebanon. Another detail to note: of 113 individuals, a whopping 14 were admitted to the country as refugees. If you do the math and extrapolate that out it means, of the 69,933 refugees admitted to the United States in 2015, .0002% of them could be likely terrorists (assuming all 14 individuals came into the country in 2015 which they probably didn’t).

Though if ISIS and Sen. Cruz share one thing in common, it’s the understanding that numbers are inconsequential when it comes to paranoia, especially after Sen. Cruz called for a complete overhaul of the refugee program after the arrest of only two refugees (in different parts of the country) for suspected terrorist activity.

The list is a strong, if not unique example of Sen. Cruz’s  “immigrant terrorist” threat. He remains a vocal supporter for the American SAFE act, and leveraged the two incidents mentioned above in support of the legislation. The SAFE act would have further increased the already extensive screening necessary for refugees to be admitted into the United States, while continuing to diminish the underwhelming U.S. response to the refugee crisis. Sen. Cruz gives minimal details of the associated costs of the plan, another ironic oversight from such an ardent critic of bloated, ineffective government.

The fight for the future of the Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. remains murky, despite the very real suffering they experience. Yet, between Sen. Cruz’s refusal to address the nuance of any reasonable foreign policy towards Muslim majority countries, and his vehement opposition to relieving the burden of displaced Syrians, a Ted Cruz Presidency is unlikely to give any meaningful time to hear the voice of its Arab American constituents.

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