Influential Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson -- whose show is a frequent destination for Republican presidential candidates -- is standing by his plan to make undocumented immigrants “property of the state” if they refuse to leave the country after an allotted period of time. In comments to Media Matters, Mickelson described his plan as “constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible.”
On his August 17 radio show, Mickelson laid out his proposal for forcing undocumented immigrants out of Iowa. According to Mickelson, he would “put up some signs” alerting undocumented immigrants that they would be forced into “compelled labor” if they did not leave before a stated deadline. He continued, “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.” After a caller raised a concern that “everybody would believe it sounds like slavery,” Mickelson replied, “well, what's wrong with slavery?”
Mickelson strongly defended his proposal during a Wednesday interview with Media Matters.
“All you have to do is put up a sign on the border,” Mickelson said. “Just put up a sign that says 'After 60 days from this date certain if you're in the state of Iowa and you are here without legal status and you are criminally in the state of Iowa, you will become the property of the state and we will compel labor from you because you are a criminal and the 13th Amendment allows us.'”
Mickelson tweeted today that he's hosted “everyone” from the Republican presidential field on his radio program except Jeb Bush.
Asked if he believed any of the GOP candidates would agree with his plan, Mickelson claimed, “most of them would understand my point isn't serious, the point is philosophical.” (Mickelson told a caller during his radio show, “you think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not.”)
He claimed that the intention of the plan was to scare people out of the state, but conceded that you may have to force “one or two people” into servitude to make a point.
“If you actually did it you would never have to do that, all you have to do is put up a sign,” he claimed. “It is the cheapest.” But he later stressed that “maybe one or two people” would have to be forced to work in a “highly visible fashion, the problem solves itself. You'll have a vast sucking sound of illegals departing the state.”
Mickelson also said Republican presidential candidates “would understand it from a historical and intellectual point of view. Because most of these people have a good understanding of western law, they would understand the 13th Amendment as it's written. Most of the states following the Civil War have criminal restitution as part of our civil code.”
Mickelson explained he does not currently have any interviews with Republican candidates scheduled, but added, “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.”
The host later expanded on his defense, saying, “The Constitution, 13th Amendment said indentured servitude, it is one of the most ancient ways that western culture has collected restitution for crime.”
“You can't just enslave people, go around to become bigger and stronger and more powerful than you are ... the Torah says that's man stealing, that's a capital offense,” he said.
“Indentured servitude, however, was the choice for debt collection. If you couldn't pay a loan you took out from someone you ended up working for that person until the loan was paid off.” He added, “If you were criminal and caused property damage to someone either by mistake or on purpose you're indentured to that person and had to pay that person back four-fold.”
According to Mickelson, “I'm not looking to start another tobacco farm or plantation or cotton farm here in Iowa, I'm just looking to hold people accountable for their behavior.”