An Iowa state senator running for U.S. Congress has invoked the wrath of Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike by saying that the government should execute immigrant felons caught illegally re-entering America.
"There is no reason to have felons here who threaten our way of life," state Sen. Mark Chelgren told the Journal Express of Knoxville and Marion County, explaining why he supports executing an undocumented immigrant who commits a crime in the U.S., is deported, and then re-enters the country illegally.
Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party quickly denounced Chelgren's words, calling them "vile, hateful and downright deplorable" in a Dec. 1 statement, according to the Des Moines Register:
"We have heard Steve King and many Republicans running for president demean and insult immigrants and advocate for callous policies that would tear immigrant families apart. Mark Chelgren’s call for executing undocumented immigrants represents a dangerous new low for the Republican Party. America is a country of immigrants, unified by the hope and opportunity to give our families and our children a better life. Our diversity makes our country stronger. Iowa Democrats will continue to fight back against heinous and hateful rhetoric from Mark Chelgren, Steve King, and the Republican Party."
The Republican Party of Iowa jumped on board to rail against their party member.
In an official statement, Charlie Szold, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa, said, "These remarks do not represent the values and beliefs of Iowa Republicans. Period."
"I think capital punishment should be considered for people who are felons and re-enter this country illegally, yes," Chelgren said. "We have to make sure we are not incentivizing people whose only intent is to victimize."
Chelgren later told the Associated Press that he was only referring to a specific, malicious group of undocumented immigrants.
"I am looking at people who are deported and who re-enter the country illegally," Chelgren said, according to NBC. "Obviously, I don't want to tear apart families. We need to be sure we are protecting the people of the United States."
He added, "Of course, I will be strong on crime. I want to make sure that we don't have criminals coming into the United States and victimizing our citizens."