Ted Cruz: The El Paso Shooting Was Racist Domestic Terrorism, and Congress Must Act

The Dallas Five. First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Santa Fe High School. And now most recently, the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where 22 more innocent people lost their lives.Repeatedly, over the past three years, our state has been struck by unspeakable evil — this time, in the form of white supremacy, anti-Hispanic bigotry, and domestic terrorism.But, just as in Dallas and Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, what I saw when I traveled to El Paso to support this grieving community should also serve as an inspiration for every community across Texas and the country.I saw a community respond to despicable hatred with tremendous love. I saw the heroes of that dark day — the men and women from all walks of life, of every color and creed, come together and stand as one.I met with many of the first responders and local officials who bravely responded to the barbaric hate expressed that Saturday morning. More than 100 federal Customs and Border Protection officers and agents rushed to the scene to assist and support state and local authorities. The comprehensive communication system used among El Paso dispatchers and law enforcement agencies allowed first responders to arrive en masse at the scene within a matter of minutes of the gunfire. Their courage and the swift response of these brave men and women prevented delays that could have resulted in even more senseless deaths.I also met with the talented and compassionate doctors, nurses and staff at Las Palmas Del Sol and the University Medical Center of El Paso. During my time at Del Sol, I visited with one woman who, after being shot, was rushed to the hospital by a Good Samaritan — a stranger whom she had never met before, but who ultimately saved her life. I met a woman in her 80s who had been shot and who also lost her older sister in the attack. But in the face of horrific evil, she was filled with joy and love, surrounded by her family.During each of these visits with survivors, I felt their overwhelming strength. A refusal to allow bigotry to win.That strength and determination is the story of El Paso. And that is the story of our state.Texas has a rich tradition of welcoming and celebrating legal immigrants. My father fled Cuba in 1957, when he was just 18 years old. He came to Austin with nothing but $100 sewn in his underwear. He got his very first job washing dishes. In Texas, he built a life for himself and went on to live the American dream. He went to school, graduated, got a job, and started his own small business.As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I am deeply horrified by the hateful anti-Hispanic bigotry expressed in the shooter's "manifesto." His intention to target the Hispanic community and wreak utter havoc is serious and should be treated as such. The sentiments he expressed are racist, ignorant, repulsive and profoundly anti-American.There is no place for this evil in El Paso, in Texas, or anywhere across our nation.I am grateful federal authorities are rightly treating this case as domestic terrorism. The Justice Department needs to treat this mass murder with the seriousness it deserves and pursue the death penalty. I pray that the victims, their families and the people of El Paso receive justice and find peace.In the days and weeks to come, Congress can and must work to help prevent these heinous attacks. Failures to effectively utilize the national background checks system has resulted in the loss of far too many precious lives. Too many felony convictions — like that of the Sutherland Springs shooter — have never even been entered into the national database.One of the very first pieces of legislation I introduced when elected to the Senate specifically sought to strengthen the background-check system, target felons and fugitives trying to illegally buy guns, and prevent gun violence.In 2013, after the shooting at Sandy Hook, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and I introduced the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act. This bill would improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and make it easier to prosecute those who put guns in the hands of criminals. At the time, a bipartisan majority voted for our proposal, but Harry Reid, the retired Democratic senator from Nevada, and other Senate Democrats led a filibuster to ultimately prevent it from becoming law.I remain committed to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation and any other measure that is both effective and constitutional. We must stop these mass murderers. The people of El Paso — the people of Texas — and all Americans deserve nothing less.Ted Cruz is a U.S. senator from Texas.  Continue reading...

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