Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz proposed police should "secure" Muslim neighborhoods in the United States. The statement quickly drew wide criticism. Cruz, seen here delivering his remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz proposed on Tuesday law enforcement "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" in the United States hours after the bombings in Brussels killed at least 31 people.
Cruz, in New York as part of his Republican campaign for president, released a statement "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
He said Europe is seeing the results "of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods."
The statement, along with Cruz's criticism of New York ending its undercover Muslim-monitoring police unit, were quickly panned.
New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton made the point there are currently about 900 Muslim police officers of the New York Police Department and said he took "great offense" at Cruz's remarks.
"The statements he made today is why he's not gonna become president of this country," Bratton said.
Others tore into the idea of "securing" Muslim neighborhoods.
"It's really beyond belief that you have one of the leading presidential candidates calling for law enforcement to target religious communities totally based on the fact that they are of a particular faith," said Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, denounced the proposal as a throwback to Japanese American internment during World War II.
"Ordering special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods will almost certainly create an adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect, making those communities more vulnerable, more frightened, and often less willing to help," Greenblatt said in a statement.
Criticism was swift from many quarters in the presidential campaign, as well.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders also heaped criticism on Cruz. Sanders called the proposal "unconstitutional" and "wrong." Clinton tweeted the policy was "beneath us" as a nation.
On the Republican side, the idea was met warmly by Cruz's opponent, front-runner Donald Trump, who agreed the program in New York monitoring Muslims should be restarted.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third remaining GOP candidate for president, disagreed with Cruz, saying: "We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with radical Islam."