AUSTIN (KXAN) — In light of the attacks in Brussels that killed over 30 people and injured more than 130, Texas politicians are speaking out about the cause of the explosions.
Senator Ted Cruz said he believes these attacks are not isolated. Cruz said this is just one incident in a string of attacks perpetrated “by radical Islamic terrorists.” According to Cruz, the coordinators of the attacks “are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam.” Cruz went on to address Obama’s role as a “president who refuses to acknowledge this reality.”
In a statement on Cruz’s Facebook page, he says, “We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
Critics in the political and religious arena immediately condemned Cruz’s statement.
Governor Greg Abbott said these attacks were a direct result of open borders. Abbott claims “our resolve must be security.”
DPS Director Steve McCraw told KXAN on an earlier trip to the border that DPS apprehends people crossing illegally from countries all over the world, including ones from ISIS-linked countries. Now the border patrol only classifies those people as “special interest aliens.” Cedar Park Republican Tony Dale has asked Congress to declassify the country of origin, to let the public know more about who’s trying to get in. He’s one of many state leaders looking for ways to improve safety.
If you remember after the Paris attacks Texas leaders decided to try and stop Syrian refugees from resettling in Texas. That was tied up in the courts.
Many claim that anti-Muslim rhetoric led to the vandalism of a Pflugerville mosque shortly after.
Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs Jeremi Suri says the risk is there for a terrorist attack in Texas, but a small risk. He says terrorism is nothing new and that it’s less likely in unified and cooperative society.
“Terrorism is an ancient form of the weapon of the weak. When the strong have the money, and the guns, and the institutions what do you do? You don’t fight them head on. You look for weak points and you attack those weak points. You exploit vulnerabilities,” said Suri.
Texas Congressman and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul reinforces one point from Professor Suri. American Muslims are more integrated and connected to the rest of their communities. While in France and Belgium, Muslims are more ostracized, which leads some to acts of terrorism.
UT Professor Jeremi Suri says terrorism cells thrive on communities that feel ostracized.
“That pandering now has become the main stream Republican position for basically all the candidates. It builds upon itself. Now candidates Trump and Cruz are seeing who can be more extreme, to get more headlines, and that’s a shame,” said Suri.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, described the attack as “heinous.” McCaul addressed the people in Belgium directly saying “we are at your side. This was an attack against us all, and it will redouble our determination to win the war against Islamist terror.”
“Muslims are a part of this country and we have been for centuries,” said Faria Akram. She’s a young voter at UT-Austin. She says this election is difficult for many Muslims.
“It’s made it worse and it’s definitely amplifying a lot of the hateful incidents you see happening around the country,” said Akram.
GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak says recent attacks and a perceived weakness in the Obama administration has the Republican party looking for the candidate who can balance it all.
“Often times in a campaign you worry about the fears and the emotions instead of public policy. And oftentimes in government you worry too much about policy and not about the fears and the emotions. So striking that balance in the right way is really the goal,” said Mackowiak.
About half of Texas voters support banning non-U.S. Muslims from entering the country. That’s according to a poll from our partner “The Texas Tribune.”
That poll shows 46 percent support a ban on Muslims coming to the United States. Forty-one percent would oppose the ban and 13 percent had no opinion on the issue.
Just more than half of Texas voters say they would disapprove of accepting Syrian refugees into the state even with a security clearance process. Another 36 percent said they would accept them.
When asked about immigration in general 53 percent agreed with deporting undocumented immigrates in the U.S., 41 percent disagreed.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, the Texas Department of Public Safety is reminding people to remain vigilant. You’re being asked to report suspicious activity to the department’s website at iwatchtx.org.Here are some examples of things you’re being asked to look for: strangers asking questions about building security features and procedures; briefcases, suitcases or backpacks left unattended; people taking photos or videos of security features such as cameras or checkpoints.