— -- In the wake of the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the U.S. must "empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
In a statement, he added: "We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence."
NYPD spokesman J. Peter Donald blasted the statement.
At a news conference earlier in the day, the Texas senator called on President Obama to end his trip to Cuba and return home to the United States or travel to Belgium’s capital.
“President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or president Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels," Cruz said today at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Three explosions hit the city’s international airport this morning and a subway station in what the Belgian federal prosecutor classified as terror attacks that left dozens dead, with at least nine Americans among the more than 250 injured.
"While our friend and allies were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros and standing at a press conference with Raul Castro as a prop while Castro denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba,” Cruz said.
Cruz wants to halt U.S. plans to bring in Syrian Muslims and vet them more thoroughly.
“We need a commander in chief who does everything necessary to defeat the enemy, and we need to immediately halt the president's ill-advised plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees,” Cruz said today. “Our vetting programs are woefully insufficient. This administration has no means of preventing those refugees from being ISIS terrorists.”
During the news conference, the Texas senator criticized the president, arguing he needs to label radical Islamic terrorism.
“And it is long past time that we had a president who will acknowledge this evil, will call it by its name, and utilize the full force and fury of the United States to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, to defeat ISIS,” Cruz said.
Cruz also argued, "This is war. This is not an isolated incident. This is not a lone wolf." ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks.
“I will say it is striking that the day after Donald Trump called for America weakening NATO, withdrawing from NATO, we see Brussels, where NATO is headquartered, the subject of a radical Islamic terrorist attack,” Cruz said.
“Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies. Donald Trump is wrong that America should retreat from Europe, retreat from NATO, hand Putin a major victory, and while he’s at it hand ISIS a major victory.”
Cruz added: "NATO should join with the United States in utterly destroying ISIS. And I would note that NATO is ready to act in a way our president is not."