On June 26, 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush shared his view of immigrants and Latino-Americans in a speech before the 71st National Conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). "Latinos come to the U.S. to seek the same dreams that have inspired millions of others: they want a better life for their children," Bush said, calling immigration "not a problem to be solved," but "the sign of a successful nation."
With campaign strategist Karl Rove "acting as his guide," Bush went on to champion "compassionate conservatism" throughout his first presidential campaign, with an unprecedented -- for the GOP -- Hispanic outreach effort as its centerpiece. To this day, no Republican candidate has come close to winning as much of the Hispanic vote as Bush did in 2000 -- (34 percent) and 2004 (44 percent).
Ten years on, George's brother Jeb has tried to strike a similarly compassionate tone on immigration in his own quest for the White House. In April, 2014 -- more than a year before he declared his candidacy -- Jeb Bush told Fox News' Shannon Bream that many immigrants who enter the United States illegally often do so as "an act of love" for their families.
In the span of a few election cycles, "compassionate conservatism" on immigration has evolved from a winning Republican campaign strategy to a major liability for GOP presidential candidates. That shift is due in large part to the growing influence of conservative media in the debate over immigration.
Though George W. Bush won two terms as a "compassionate conservative," he never succeeded in passing immigration reform in Congress. That failure was due in part to the mobilization of right-wing media, which coalesced in the wake of his 2004 re-election. "You could say that talk radio killed President Bush's attempts at immigration reform," Frank Sharry of America's Voice told The Washington Post in 2013. "They started to lurch to the right, they wanted to give Bush a bloody nose, the conservative media mobilized."
Conservative media's opposition to immigration reform, led by talk radio, has only intensified since the defeat of the Senate immigration bill Bush supported in 2007: Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that the "colonization" or "invasion" of "illegal aliens" creates a "destructive" subculture in the U.S.; Laura Ingraham said that Congress's "Hispanic Caucus" should be renamed the "Open Borders Caucus" and claimed that migrant children were spreading diseases to "public school kids across the country;" and Texas radio host Michael Berry claimed that killings by "illegal aliens" are "not a rare occurrence."
At the same time, right-wing radio hosts have worked tirelessly to pull Republican politicians to the right on immigration, often by inciting anti-Hispanic sentiment among listeners. Rush Limbaugh has told the GOP to ignore the "non-factor" Hispanic vote. Laura Ingraham told her listeners that former Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner needed to move closer to the views of the extreme right on immigration, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Chuck Grassley.
Perhaps the most extreme example of right-wing talk radio's hostility toward immigration came in August of 2015. Iowa Caucus GOP kingmaker and radio host Jan Mickelson, who has hosted several 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls on his show, proposed on-air that the state of Iowa enslave undocumented immigrants, saying, "Put up a sign that says at the end of 60 days, if you are not here with our permission, can't prove your legal status, you become property of the state. And then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor." Mickelson has previously said that he assumes that someone is not "here legally" if they have a Hispanic-sounding name and a history of involvement with the police.
Fox News has also become a major driver of right-wing fearmongering on immigration. The network's personalities regularly disparage immigrants as criminals and murderers and use derogatory and racist terms like "illegals" and "anchor babies" to describe undocumented immigrants. They also attack Hispanic civil rights groups and indiscriminately show stock video footage of immigrants crossing the border during on-air discussions about immigration. Fox News personalities have peddled the harmful and false stereotype that Hispanics immigrants are all criminals. As Sean Hannity once told his millions of radio listeners: "You want to talk about crime? Well what do you think -- who's coming from Latin America and Mexico? Are they rich, successful Mexicans, Nicaraguans, El Salvador residents? No! Why would they leave if they're so successful?"
Unsurprisingly, Fox's immigration coverage has been heavily influenced by the views of extreme anti-immigrant groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies - groups that Bush's former commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, named as part of the right-wing coalition that derailed immigration reform in 2007.
Conservative media's disparaging treatment of Latinos and immigration is especially problematic given the lack of positive depictions of Latinos in mainstream media. According to a study by Columbia University, news "stories about Latinos constitute less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of these stories feature Latinos as lawbreakers."
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Latino Decisions found that media stereotypes in news media about Latinos fuel negative and "hostile" attitudes, making it even harder to have reasonable or compassionate conversations about immigration reform. It's no surprise, then, that talk radio and Fox News audiences also exhibit "significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino affect relative to other media consumer groups."
Conservative media's harmful coverage of immigration isn't purely motivated by animus towards Latinos; it's also a product of a media economy that incentivizes media outlets to make their coverage as sensational as possible, even if that means scaring audiences with unrealistic depictions of Latino criminality. Political media often thrives by making policy disputes as high-stakes as possible. In the case of immigration, that means emphasizing the "threat" posed by immigrants to the predominantly white, older Americans who consume conservative media. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has pointed out, "it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters":
"While it's conservative in its orientation, it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters. And playing to the prejudice of their audiences or reinforcing them - as opposed to engaging in enlightened and intellectual debate - is pretty widespread." The best example, he said, is immigration reform: "Here's an area we have to deal with, we've got to come to an accommodation. But the opposition, especially of talk radio, makes that almost impossible. Who in the conservative media is arguing for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform? Almost nobody."
"Today's conservative media now shapes the agenda of the party, pushing it to the far right," writes Jackie Colmes, author of a Harvard study which examined conservative media's impact on conservative politicians. According to Colmes, the GOP's rhetoric and policy positions on immigration have largely followed conservative media's lead, despite the party's own advice about developing better relationships with Hispanics.
The shrinking divide between conservative media and GOP policy on immigration helps explain why presidential candidate Donald Trump has soared in Republican voter polls by telling wildly false and exaggerated horror stories about Mexican immigrants. Trump is essentially mirroring the fear-based, fact-free approach to immigration popularized by conservative media outlets like Fox News. "[Roger] Ailes knows that Fox made Trump, politically, and that the two are made for each other," wrote Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky. And as former Reagan administration official Bruce Bartlett told Mother Jones, "Trump is sort of the most obvious example in which Fox is exercising outside influence on the Republican electoral process. I think without Fox, he would not be running, let alone a serious candidate." Various Fox News personalities have applauded Trump's immigrant smears -- echoing years of the network's own anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Largely because of the influence of anti-immigration, right-wing media, GOP politicians are losing the space they once had to call for a more compassionate tone on immigration and towards Latinos. It's a symptom of a political landscape that's blurred the divide between profit-driven conservative infotainment -- which often plays up racist and xenophobic stereotypes about Latinos -- and mainstream Republican politics.
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson attacked religious groups advocating for the United States to accept more Syrian refugees into the country, calling them "phony" and suggesting they are "criminals."
During the September 29 broadcast of his show, Mickelson hosted Roy Beck, executive director of the nativist anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA -- and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, former "Washington editor of The Social Contract, a quarterly journal that has published articles by 'white nationalists'" -- to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis and religious groups asking the United States government to increase the number allowed to resettle here.
During the interview, Mickelson said Beck was "way too nice" about the situation, and went on to repeatedly call the religious groups "phony" and say he thought some were "criminals."
While Mickelson did not specifically name which religious organizations he thought may be criminals, he referred to Jewish, Lutheran, Quaker, and Catholic organizations generally, saying refugees should be forced to "live in their neighborhoods" and attend "their schools." After Beck claimed that local churches and church members often can't meet the needs of refugees they support, Mickelson said, "We ought to foreclose on their property."
According to Reuters, the organizations that support accepting refugees include the Church World Service, "that represents 37 Christian denominations," and Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish organizations:
Church World Service, a global humanitarian organization that represents 37 Christian denominations, has called on the government to take in 100,000 Syrians over the next year, said Jen Smyers, who works on the group's immigration and refugee program.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the Jewish refugee assistance agency HIAS along with secular groups have also backed that figure.
From the Sept. 25 edition of iHeartRadio's Mickelson in the Morning:
Loading the player reg...
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson said that Muslim refugees shouldn't be allowed into the United States because they've "imbibed" the "despoti[c]" nature of Islam and "would have no clue coming to this culture about the virtues of self-government."
On the September 16 edition of his WHO Radio show, Mickelson relayed a "parable" about a fictional Baptist church in Pennsylvania whose congregation changed over time, increased its "diversity of thought," and ultimately -- when the newer congregants outnumbered the older ones -- adopted positions different from those of the "founding members." Mickelson warned, "That's what democracy looks like" and referenced Thomas Jefferson to argue that allowing Muslim refugees into the country would be bad for America because they "would have no clue coming to this culture about the virtues of self-government":
MICKELSON: We have not been listening to the warnings of Jefferson. If ever there was a population that is (sic) imbibed the philosophy of despotism, it is people from -- who've imbibed Islam from the moment of their birth, who would have no clue coming to this culture about the virtues of self-government and the disciplines that come along with it.
Mickelson has been heavily criticized recently for proposing an immigration plan that would make undocumented immigrants who don't leave Iowa "property of the state" and for saying Supreme Court Justices Kagan and Ginsburg should have recused themselves from this year's landmark marriage equality case because they're "liberal Jews." Most recently, he mocked the "magical thinking" of Jewish groups in America who are trying to help Syrian refugees resettle here.
Loading the player reg...
Jan Mickelson claimed Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should have recused themselves from the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage not only because they had officiated same-sex weddings prior to the case's decision, but because they are also "liberal Jews."
Discussing June's Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on his September 9 show, Mickelson repeated the debunked notion that the two justices should have recused themselves from the case -- a call that originated with the anti-gay hate group, American Family Association, and was picked up by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly -- because they had officiated at same-sex weddings and are "disingenuous," "biased," "liberal Jews" with a "religious motivation" (emphasis added):
JAN MICKELSON: I know this is a story that we were just talking about, is in the background, but I agree with Pastor Demastus. Our culture is in the process of being picked apart by activists who are just fundamentally broken, damaged people. And also by disingenuous judges and disingenuous lawyers. The case to which I refer: Judge Roberts should have required two of the members of the Supreme Court to recuse themselves, Kagan and Ginsburg, because both of them had literally presided over same-gender weddings previous to the ruling. In any other kind of thing, if they-- a vested emotional interest and a vested religious interest in their part, would have caused them to have been required to recuse themselves. If they had a monetary interest in the outcome of a court case, they would have been required to recuse themselves. In this case, they had a religious motivation for moving forward and conducting same-gender marriage: they are both liberal Jews. No, I'm not saying anything bad, this is a correct assessment of their world view.
Why is it if Christians use their religion to resist same-gender marriage -- "Well they're the Taliban, dude" -- well then, why is it that if people with different religions do exactly the same thing, they are exempt from the same criticism? Well, I am not going to exempt them. They are biased, they had legal bias. They should not have been in a position to decide. They should have recused themselves. Roberts should have required it. And if they were both gone, that ruling would not have advanced the hoax of same-gender marriage because they wouldn't have had the votes. It's a totally safe and useless gesture. When his authority meant something, he didn't use it. It was a contrivance and a scam, just like the court shopping down in Kentucky that found a gay rights activist to decide over the lady that eventually got tossed into jail for refusing to issue a bogus marriage license.
Earlier this week prominent Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee, a major sponsor of Mickelson's employer, WHO Radio, announced that it no longer wanted its promotional message played during his broadcasts from Hy-Vee Studio. However, Hy-Vee's ads were still running as of September 9 on the livestream of Mickelson's show carried by iHeartMedia, corporate owners of WHO radio.* Mickelson was widely criticized in August for proposing an immigration plan that would make undocumented immigrants who don't leave Iowa "property of the state," and other sponsors are reportedly also reconsidering their ties to the embattled host. Meanwhile, Mickelson has continued to play host to GOP 2016 presidential candidates -- including Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal, all of whom appeared on his show this week, after these comments about the justices were made.
*UPDATE: After publishing, Hy-Vee contacted Media Matters and stated any ads still running on Mickelson's show are a scheduling mistake. The language in this post has been updated to reflect Hy-Vee's reiterated statement that "We will continue our overall sponsorship with WHO Radio. And we will continue to own the naming rights to the studio, which is governed by a legal contract that does not specify the sponsoring of Mickelson's show."
A major advertiser is distancing itself from Jan Mickelson's radio show. Last month, the Iowa radio host caused widespread controversy by suggesting undocumented immigrants should "become property of the state" if they do not leave.
Hy-Vee, a Des Moines-based grocery store chain that boasts more than 230 stores in eight states, revealed it has asked WHO radio, Mickelson's employer, to stop promoting the company on his show.
"Hy-Vee has asked WHO Radio to no longer air the recorded announcement referencing the Hy-Vee studio name during the Jan Mickelson show," Tara Deering-Hansen, Hy-Vee's Group Vice President, Communications, said in a statement issued Friday. "We have also instructed WHO Radio to no longer air pre-recorded Hy-Vee commercials during his program. We will continue our overall sponsorship with WHO Radio. And we will continue to own the naming rights to the studio, which is governed by a legal contract that does not specify the sponsoring of Mickelson's show. As with all programming, we neither support nor endorse the views expressed by a show's host or listeners."
Despite Hy-Vee's statement, an advertisement for the company recorded by WHO hosts Van and Bonnie aired on today's edition of Mickelson's program. Hy-Vee told Media Matters they are "checking into" what happened.
The move away from Mickelson's show comes after the host laid out a plan on his August 17 program that included posting signs warning undocumented immigrants they would "become property of the state" if they did not leave before a chosen deadline.
He said, in part, "So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you're still here, and we find that you're still here after we we've given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do."
A second advertiser is also taking steps to distance its brand from Mickelson. When contacted by Media Matters about its ad running on Mickelson's program, a representative for Bankers Trust said, "I believe there has been a misunderstanding, as we have not been an advertiser on Mr. Mickelson's show. When we were made aware that an ad was aired by mistake we notified the station. We were assured it would not happen again."
Numerous conservative media outlets are parroting the misleading conclusions of a September 2015 report by an anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claims that "immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households." Like previous flawed CIS studies, these findings have been called into question by immigration experts for failing to account for the economic hardship of some immigrant families, lumping American-born beneficiaries into "immigrant household" categorizations, and conflating numerous anti-poverty programs with so-called "welfare."
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who is under fire for suggesting that undocumented immigrants should become "property of the state" unless they leave Iowa, applauded a decision by Texas' Department of State Health Services to deny birth certificates to American children of undocumented immigrants.
On his August 28 show, Mickelson criticized what he called "street hustler" civil rights groups who have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services for refusing to issue birth certificates to U.S. citizen children born to undocumented immigrant parents. As Talking Points Memo explained, the plaintiff's complaint alleges that Texas stopped allowing "matricula consular" identifications -- official papers issued by the U.S.-based consulate of the immigrant parents' home country -- "to meet the requirements to acquire a birth certificate for their U.S.-born children" around two years ago.
Mickelson, who denies that the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship applies to the children of undocumented immigrants, said he thinks it is "cool" that Texas is refusing to issue these birth certificates and expressed his appreciation of Texas' approach as "Iowa passive-aggressive," which will prevent such children "to start this process of looting." Listen (emphasis added):
JAN MICKELSON: The Mexican government has now filed its amicus brief -- that's 'a friend of the court' -- supporting a coalition of undocumented parents who are suing the state of Texas because they were denied birth certificates for their kids. So all of the usual suspects, the ACLU, La Raza, and every street hustler organization that has its hooks in us, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Society and the Department of Health and Social Services and the Friends of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala, have all decided to sue the state of Texas because they can't get documentation of the birth of their kids, that were illegitimately born here in the United States and they're not following form. Now Texas is doing the Iowa passive-aggressive thing, "Okay, you can be born here, just no record of your existence and you can't use anything from us to start this process of looting." That is cool.
Mickelson has come under fire recently for comments he made on his August 17 radio show advocating that undocumented immigrants who refuse to leave Iowa after being warned become "property of the state" and be forced into "compelled labor." It was the latest of Mickleson's many anti-immigrant remarks, which include his assumption that anyone with a Hispanic-sounding name who gets involved with the police is an undocumented immigrant, and his declaration that educating undocumented children in public schools is "a scam."
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who recently suggested enslaving undocumented immigrants who don't leave his state, misrepresented a comment made in 1866 by one of the authors of the 14th Amendment to argue that the U.S. Constitution doesn't grant automatic citizenship to American-born children of undocumented immigrants, a wildly revisionist misreading of both American history and legal precedent
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who recently suggested enslaving undocumented immigrants who don't leave Iowa after being warned, attacked Fox News host Bill O'Reilly for questioning Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's extreme views on birthright citizenship and deportation, and said Americans should "applaud" the billionaire businessman for starting a debate.
On his August 24 radio show, Mickelson -- who has recently come in for withering criticism for suggesting that undocumented immigrants who refuse to leave Iowa should become "property of the state" forced to do "compelled labor" -- brought up O'Reilly's recent interview with Trump. Mickelson criticized a question O'Reilly asked Trump about his position on birthright citizenship, complaining that O'Reilly's hypothetical example of two illegal immigrant parents with two legal American-born children -- he asked if Trump would order immigration agents to 'put them in a van [and] bring them to a detention center' for deportation -- was "a scam starting with the notion of birthright citizenship":
When he finished critiquing the Trump-O'Reilly interview, Mickelson read aloud an entire National Review article titled, "The Very Real Economic Costs of Birthright Citizenship," which relies heavily on data and analysis from the anti-immigrant nativist organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, to claim that birthright citizenship is harming America. Citing that data, Mickelson heaped praise on Trump and declared, "We owe Donald Trump at least a round of applause for bringing these issues to the forefront":
Mickelson has a long history of attacking immigrants and Hispanics in America. He has said that he assumes anyone with a Hispanic-sounding name who is involved with police is "not here legally" and that it's "a scam" to let undocumented students attend public schools in the United States.
But despite his racist rhetoric towards immigrants and Hispanics, Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 election have appeared on Mickelson's show over 40 times so far this year. Not even wide condemnation of his undocumented immigrant enslavement plan could keep them away: candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared on his show four days after he said it. Mickelson's slavery plan did not come up.
In the aftermath of Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson's public call to make undocumented immigrants who don't leave voluntarily the "property of the state of Iowa" and forced into "compelled labor," the state's largest newspaper published two opinion columns condemning Mickelson's rhetoric and calling for an end to attacks on immigrants.
On the August 17 broadcast of his radio show, Mickelson proposed a plan to drive undocumented immigrants out of Iowa by posting signs around the state saying that after an allotted time, any undocumented immigrant who remained in Iowa would become "property of the state of Iowa" and as such, would be forced to perform manual labor such as building a wall between Mexico and the United States.
Two columnists at The Des Moines Register called out Mickelson's comments, rebuking his rhetoric and calling for more civility in the immigration debate. In her August 22 column for The Register, Rekha Basu called Mickelson "this year's chief demagogue" for attacking undocumented immigrants and warned that by putting ideas immigrant slaver on the table, "people assume it has legitimacy." She urged that the debate over immigration be held "in a responsible way," and continued:
This inflammatory rhetoric is a long way from the approach of past GOP leaders like former President George W. Bush and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. Iowa's beloved former Iowa Gov. Bob Ray, who welcomed Southeast Asian war refugees in the 1970s, issued a statement earlier this year supporting Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free legal services to unaccompanied undocumented minors. "Iowa is a welcoming state!" Ray declared. At least it was then.
I'm hopeful most Iowans will respond to Mickelson's slave-ownership plan by showing it still is.
Kyle Munson also criticized Mickelson's comments in an August 23 Register column, writing that after he heard what was said, he went to talk to Mickelson at the Iowa State Fair. Munson told readers that Mickelson "reaffirmed in person what he said on air," and added:
I just can't wrap my mind around Mickelson's proposal, whether as an intentionally controversial rhetorical device or serious policy. Makes me think of the horrific workhouses of Victorian England.
Like Basu, Munson -- who is hosting a forum on immigration where audience members will be able to discuss and debate the issue with panelists and presidential candidates -- called for civility in the immigration debate. He wrote, "As a columnist it would be easier for me to radicalize this immigration issue than to try to bring everybody beneath a big tent to be more productive. But I believe wholeheartedly that it's worth it."
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who recently pushed an immigration plan that would force undocumented immigrants to become enslaved workers if they refuse to leave, has hosted Republican presidential candidates 43 times in 2015. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) leads all candidates with 11 appearances; former Gov. Mike Huckabee has appeared 8 times.
On his August 17 show, Mickelson proposed an immigration plan that included posting signs around Iowa warning undocumented immigrants that they could either leave or "become property of the state." When confronted by a caller who said the plan sounded like slavery, Mickelson responded, "what's wrong with slavery?"
Asked by Media Matters to explain his comments, Mickelson argued his plan was "constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible." He claimed Republican presidential candidates "would understand [his position] from a historical and intellectual point of view," adding, "most of them would understand my point isn't serious, the point is philosophical" -- though he told a caller on the 17th, "you think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not."
According to a Media Matters analysis of Mickelson's show, in 2015 alone he has hosted most of the Republican presidential field. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Jim Gilmore, Chris Christie, George Pataki, and John Kasich have not appeared on his program this year (click to enlarge):
According to a tweet by Mickelson, he said he hosted Trump "a few months ago," but it appears that was in October 2014 and outside the scope of this analysis. One of Carson's appearances was during an episode featuring a guest host.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared on the program on August 21 amid widespread outrage over Mickelson's immigration proposal, but the controversial plan was not discussed.
Mickelson told Media Matters earlier this week about how candidates end up on his show: "They'll come, they'll pursue it and say 'can we come on,' and 'sure,' I don't chase them around looking for them to come on, they usually call and ask me."
Although these recent inflammatory comments have garnered significant attention -- due in part to Mickelson's kingmaker status in the state -- Mickelson has a long history of making offensive comments about immigrants. Earlier this year, Mickelson said he assumed anyone with a Hispanic last name who gets in trouble with police is "not here legally" and called educating undocumented children at public schools "a scam." Mickelson has also suggested bringing back Jim Crow-era voting laws such as something similar to a literacy test.
Mickelson has promoted his anti-immigration theories during interviews with candidates, including pushing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to embrace the argument that undocumented children shouldn't be allowed to attend public schools and asking Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) if they believed a debunked Dick Morris conspiracy theory about the Trans Pacific Partnership including a provision for unrestricted immigration to the United States.
Media Matters listened to every edition of Mickelson In The Morning from Jan 1, 2015, through August 21, 2015, and counted every time all declared and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate were hosted.
From the August 20 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
Loading the player reg...
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is scheduled to appear on Jan Mickelson's radio show tomorrow, just days after the Iowa host proposed a plan to enslave undocumented immigrants if they refuse to leave the country.
On his August 17 show, Mickelson proposed an immigration plan that included posting signs around Iowa warning undocumented immigrants that they could either leave or "become property of the state." He added, "And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do." When confronted about his plan by a caller who said "everybody would believe it sounds like slavery," Mickelson responded, "what's wrong with slavery?"
During an interview with Media Matters, Mickelson stood by his comments, calling them "constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible." He claimed you would likely only have to force "maybe one or two people" to work in a "highly visible fashion," which would lead to "a vast sucking sound of illegals departing the state."
Republican presidential candidates have flocked to Mickelson's show. According to Mickelson, candidates "would understand [his position] from a historical and intellectual point of view," and "most of them would understand my point isn't serious, the point is philosophical." (On his show the day he laid out his plan, Mickelson told a caller, "you think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not.")
MICKELSON: Good morning everybody, welcome back to the conversation. I'm Jan Mickelson. We have some open line time between now and the bottom of the hour when The Big Show starts. Tomorrow's program, at a little bit after 9 o'clock [AM CST] we'll be talking with Senator Ted Cruz. He will be out here as a presidential candidate. That should be lots and lots of fun and very, very interesting. He's one of the most dynamic speakers on the tour this time and I've been reading some of his think pieces as a legal scholar in one of the Texas legal scholarly magazines and I'm going to be talking to him about some of that tomorrow morning. That should be interesting.
Mickelson told Media Matters that presidential candidates actively pursue appearances on his show: "They'll come, they'll pursue it and say 'can we come on,' and 'sure,' I don't chase them around looking for them to come on, they usually call and ask me."
On August 19, Cruz was endorsed by Steve Deace, another prominent Iowa-based conservative radio host. Like Mickelson, Deace has made offensive remarks about the LGBT and immigrant communities. He also recently suggested that the Republican Party should have thanked presidential candidate Donald Trump for his suggestion that Mexican immigrants are rapists.