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Groups Blast Radio Host Suggesting ‘Enslaving’ Undocumented Immigrants

Several groups have blasted a conservative radio talk show host in Iowa who suggested undocumented immigrants should be turned into “property of the state” and be forced into “compelled labor,” such as building a wall along the United States-Mexico border. Doing so, he believes, will drive undocumented immigrants out of Iowa.

“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,” Jan Mickelson said during his radio show on Monday. “And then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor.”

Monica Reyes, a DREAMer who grew up in rural Iowa, said Mickelson’s comments are “offensive, dehumanizing and plain immoral.”

“To suggest enslaving me and my family is not just a personal attack; it’s a fresh reminder of one of the darkest times in our nation’s history,” said Reyes, who’s also the co-founder of DREAM Iowa. “This is degradation in its purest form.”

Mickelson’s offensive comments didn’t end there. When a person called in and told Mickelson his idea of turning undocumented immigrants into property “sounds an awful lot like slavery,” the conservative radio talk show host responded by asking, “Well, what's wrong with slavery?”

Later in the show, Mickelson also said he is for building a “tent village” like the one run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”

“We would take a lesson from Sheriff Arpaio down in Arizona,” Mickelson said. “Put up a tent village, we feed and water these new assets, we give them minimal shelter, minimal nutrition, and offer them the opportunity to work for the benefit of the taxpayers of the state of Iowa. All they have to do to avoid servitude is to leave.”

Media Matters posted the audio and a transcript of Mickelson’s radio show online. According to the group, Mickelson “has a history of making racially-charged, anti-immigrant remarks but he also has a strong pull with conservative caucus voters in Iowa.”

Several GOP presidential candidates—including Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson—have appeared on his show. Most recently, Gov. Scott Walker was a guest on the show, following Mickelson’s remarks about using undocumented immigrants for slave labor.