GOLDFIELD, Iowa -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) reacted to the arrests of two terrorist suspects, in California and Texas, by calling for the end of Syrian refugee resettlement and an undefined new vetting of refugees already settled in America.
"These arrests -- and these are federal arrests, by the Obama Justice Department -- underscore the profound danger that is facing America from radical Islamic terrorism," said Cruz after a presidential campaign stop here. "And these arrests underscore how utterly indefensible President Obama and Hillary Clinton's proposal is to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into this country."
While Cruz was speaking in this town of 635 people, unsealed indictments in Houston and Sacramento revealed that 24-year-old Omar Faraj Saeed al-Harda and 23-year-old Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab had been charged with, respectively, seeking to support the Islamic State and to travel to Syria to fight alongside it. Both men came to the United States from Iraq, well before the outbreak of civil war in Syria and the growth of the terror state.
"These arrests underscore the need to take up and pass the legislation I have filed," said Cruz, referring to his Expatriate Terrorist Act and his State Refugee Security Act. Taken together, they would allow citizenship to be stripped from Americans who ally with the Islamic State, and bar refugees from the countries where the State Department identifies a substantial terrorist presence.
"I call upon Leader McConnell, I call upon Speaker Ryan, to pass the legislation," said Cruz. "We can give thanks that we are not discovering this in the aftermath of yet another terrible attack."
Cruz twice criticized Clinton by name for not clearly describing a threat to America as "radical Islamic terrorism." On the Iowa airwaves, one of the most-seen Cruz campaign ads features the candidate warning against further refugee resettlement; in his Goldfield stump speech, he repeated a common criticism of the Obama administration for not considering the 2009 Fort Hood, Tex., killings acts of terrorism.
But Cruz went further in Goldfield. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza asked whether the fact that Thursday's terrorist suspects arrived in America long before the Syrian crisis meant that refugees already in the United States needed to be vetted again. Cruz said that they did.
"We need a retroactive assessment of refugees who have been allowed into this country," said Cruz. "We need a systematic assessment of the national security threats, and I'll tell you, one of the greatest challenges with the Obama assessing security risks is the bizarre, the indefensible, political correctness of refusing to acknowledge what it is we're fighting."
When BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray asked exactly what Cruz was referring to, he described a sort of information dragnet, in keeping with criticism of investigators' failure to catch the suspects in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack despite some odd travel patterns and statements.
"There needs to be systematic and careful retroactive assessment of terrorists brought in from high-risk countries, to examine the public records, to examine all of the evidence that might indicate whether these individuals have ties to radical Islamic countries," he said. "What communications, what statements have they made, what actions have they taken?"