Iowa Radio Host's Revisionist History: Jan Mickelson Tries To Walk Back Earlier Call To Enslave Undocumented Immigrants

Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who used his August 17 show to call for undocumented immigrants to perform forced labor as “property of the state,” is now misrepresenting what he said in an attempt to play down his incendiary comments, claiming he merely said that Iowa should erect signs threatening undocumented immigrants with indentured servitude if they did not leave the state. What Mickelson actually said was that such signs would only work if some immigrants were actually rounded up and forced into compelled labor.

Jan Mickelson Called For Undocumented Immigrants To Perform “Compelled Labor” As “Property Of The State”

Iowa Radio Host Jan Mickelson Advocated Forced Laborers “Owned By The State” To Curb Illegal Immigration. On his August 17 broadcast from the Iowa State Fair, Des Moines-based conservative radio host Jan Mickelson said he would like to see undocumented immigrants rounded up and forced to work for the state if they don't leave after warnings are posted on road signs near the state's borders (emphasis added in transcript):

JAN MICKELSON: Now here is what would work. And I was asked by an immigration open border's activist a couple of weeks ago, how I would get all the illegals here in the state of Iowa to leave. “Are you going to call the police every time you find an illegal, are you going to round them up and put them in detention centers?”

I said, “No you don't have to do any of that stuff.”

“Well you going to invite them to leave the country and leave Iowa?”

And I said, “Well, sort of.”

“Well how you going to do it, Mickelson? You think you're so smart. How would you get thousands of illegals to leave Iowa?”

Well, I said, “Well if I wanted to do that I would just put up some signs.”

“Well what would the signs say?”

I said, "Well I'd would put them on the end of the highway, on western part of the interstate system, and I'd put them on the eastern side of the state, right there on the interstate system, and in the north on the Minnesota border, and on the south Kansas and Missouri border and I would just say this: 'As of this date' -- whenever we decide to do this -- 'as of this date, 30--' this is a totally arbitrary number, '30 to 60 days from now anyone who is in the state of Iowa that who is not here legally and who cannot demonstrate their legal status to the satisfaction of the local and state authorities here in the State of Iowa, become property of the State of Iowa.' 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.

“Well how would you apply that logic to what Donald Trump is trying to do? Trying to get Mexico to pay for the border and for the wall?”

“Same way. We say, 'Hey, we are not going to make Mexico pay for the wall, we're going to invite the illegal Mexicans and illegal aliens to build it. If you have come across the border illegally, again give them another 60-day guideline, you need to go home and leave this jurisdiction, and if you don't you become property of the United States, and guess what? You will be building a wall. We will compel your labor. You would belong to these United States. You show up without an invitation, you get to be an asset. You get to be a construction worker. Cool!' [The Jan Mickelson Show, 8/17/15]

Mickelson Backtracks: I Only Advocated For Signs To Warn Undocumented Immigrants, My Comments Were Taken Out Of Context

After The Outcry Following His Remarks, Mickelson Lied About What He Said. In response to an editorial by Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu that denounced Mickelson's plan, the radio host tried to backtrack by claiming he had only advocated threatening compelled labor via highway signs, not actually carrying out the threat. In a blog post for, he wrote (emphasis added):

(QUOTING BASU'S COLUMN): “Usually the rhetoric is aimed at a political rival, and the demographic group (illegals are not a demographic group) is ammunition for the candidate's case. But this year's chief demagogue is a popular Iowa talk radio host. On his Aug. 17 WHO radio show, Jan Mickelson proposed that Iowa declare undocumented immigrants to be ”state property,"

Nope. As an example of Iowa's passive aggressive traits, I recommended we put up signs at the borders giving illegals 60 days to leave Iowa or become property of the state. Putting up signs.


I said nothing inflammatory. Advocating for the enforcement of immigration laws isn't controversial. As I have shown, most of what was said about my remarks was mis-reported or twisted by paid leftist activists, or by a dishonest columnist. [, 8/23/15]

Full Audio Of Mickelson's Show Reveals He Said It Would Take “A Couple High Profile Cases” Of Compelled Labor To Make Signs Credible

Mickelson Said His Plan To Compel Undocumented Immigrant Labor Was “Not Hypothetical” And “A Couple High Profile Cases” Would Make Warning Signs Effective. Contrary to Mickelson's response to critics that he only advocated for road signs, the full audio of his August 17 show reveals that he said “several high profile cases” of undocumented workers becoming state property and being compelled to work would be needed to make the highway warning signs an effective deterrent (emphasis added in transcript).

JAN MICKELSON: How long do you think it would take, if we really had a couple high profile cases of doing this, for even the most dull, not-paying-attention-individual coming across the border illegally, how long do you think they would wait in order to get their act together? The vast sucking sound we would hear, in the words of Ross Perot, would be the sound of people thrashing through the Rio Grande, the water splashing everywhere as they leave voluntarily. You don't have to round anybody up, you don't have to deport anybody, you don't have to yell and scream, you just say, “If you are not here without our permission, you work for us. Thanks for coming.”

This is what Iowa passive-aggressive has taught me. If I wanted to do this as a state policy, that's what I would do. I would invite somebody to put up about three different signs, one in each borderof [[in]] the state of Iowa. That's what I would say in a multiple language groups (sic). If you outstay your welcome here by whatever it is, 30 days, 60 days, you become a worker for the state of Iowa. We will extract your labor and we have all kinds of jobs for people like that to do. You're welcome to evaluate what I just-- I'm willing to defend it, and no it's not a hypothetical issue. If I were in a position of authority to do it, absolutely I would do it, because right now, the state taxpayers, the state of Iowa, get the bills. That is an iniquitous situation I think we ought to reverse. On News Radio 1040, WHO, live from the fair, back in a moment. [The Jan Mickelson Show, 8/17/15]

Mickelson Repeated To Media Matters That “One Or Two” People Would Be Forced Into Work To Make Threat Of Compelled Labor Credible. In an interview with Media Matters' senior reporter Joe Strupp, Mickelson said he believed that authorities would have to actually force “one or two people” to work for the threatening signs to be credible:

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.” [Media Matters, 8/19/15]

Mickelson Acknowledged That Media Matters “Included The (Audio) Of My Comments In Context”

Des Moines Register: Mickelson Said Media Matters Quoted His Comments “In Context.” After Media Matters published a transcript of Mickelson's immigration policy proposal from his August 17 show, The Des Moines Register reached out to the radio host for comment. Mickelson told the newspaper that Media Matters reported his comments “in context,” but then he tried to back away from his own words:

Media Matters, a liberal website that says it monitors and corrects “conservative misinformation,” flagged Mickelson's remarks after his morning talk show Monday on WHO Radio in Des Moines.

“So if you are here without our permission,” Mickelson said on his show Monday, “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.”

Media Matters wrote a headline that says Mickelson wants to “enslave undocumented immigrants unless they leave.”

Mickelson told The Des Moines Register Thursday that he thinks “the outrage from the Media Matters ditto heads is contrived. They included the (audio) of my comments in context which is good, but almost nobody is listening to the premise, just looking at headline. 'Talk host wants to enslave immigrants.' ”

Mickelson said he was responding to Fox News and a couple of presidential candidates, including Republican Donald Trump.

“They said it would be too expensive to deport 11 million illegals. And Trump wants to make Mexico pay for the wall. I said, 'We could fix two things the same way: Have the illegals build the wall and in Iowa put up some signs saying after 60 days illegals have to leave or become property of the state, indentured for service. In essence, illegals would volunteer by staying despite the notice,' ” Mickelson told the Register. [The Des Moines Register, 8/20/15]