Donald Trump’s call to “close up” United States borders in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels has drawn heavy criticism from a group of elected officials in Texas.
The Texas Border Coalition – a group made up of border mayors, county judges and communities – said in a statement that Trump’s words were a “ridiculous staging of security theater” and that the Border Patrol needed more resources, not “false efforts that harm morale.”
"Closing our land border with Mexico would be a ridiculous staging of security theater: the practice of false efforts intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it," the statement said.
It continued, "The story of the men and women protecting the Southwest border is a success story: seizing more currency, drugs, and weapons than ever. The Southwest border security team needs more resources, not false efforts that harm morale and the economy."
Trump, who previously called for a ban on Muslims coming to the United States following terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, told “Fox & Friends” in a telephone interview on Tuesday, "I would close up our borders until we figure out what's going on.”
He later clarified his statement to “CBS This Morning” by saying, "I didn't say shut it down. I said you have to be very careful. We have to be very, very strong and vigilant at the borders. We have to be tough."
At least 34 people were killed on Tuesday when explosions rocked the Brussels airport and subway system.
Trump was attacked on Tuesday by fellow Republican candidate Ted Cruz, who blasted Trump for advocating that the U.S. should withdraw from NATO. The organization is based in Brussels.
“The Obama-Clinton retreat from the world is very much like the retreat that Donald Trump is advocating,” the Texas senator said.
Cruz, however, also was hit with a sharp rebuke from Muslim Americans and civil rights groups angered at the Texas senator's call for increased surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods.
Cruz said Tuesday that law enforcement should be empowered to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
Echoing earlier statements from Trump, Cruz also said the U.S. should stop the flow of refugees from countries where the Islamic State militant group has a significant presence. The Islamic State took credit for the attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station that killed dozens Tuesday and wounded many more.
Muslims across the county and groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Cruz's statements, but many said such a reaction was nothing new. Advocacy groups have said for months that the Islamic-extremist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and the intensifying rhetoric in the presidential campaign have ratcheted up animosity against American Muslims.
"We believe we are part of the society. We have the same ideology as mainstream Americans," said Osman Ahmed, a resident of a Somali neighborhood in Minneapolis. "I don't think the ideology of surveillance of a Muslim community neighborhood is the right thing to do. That will send a message that Muslim Americans are not a part of American society ... and that's the message that terrorism groups are willing to hear."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.