CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

12.02.15 1:50 AM ET

Iowa Republican: Execute Undocumented Immigrant Felon Border-Crossers

An Iowa GOP lawmaker running for Congress is one-upping Donald Trump, proposing that the U.S. execute undocumented immigrants who repeatedly cross the border after committing crimes.

An Iowa Republican running for Congress has finally figured out how to deal with undocumented immigrants who commit crimes: Execute them.

Like leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, state Sen. Mark Chelgren says he would build a fence to control who enters and leaves the United States. But when immigrants cross the border illegally, commit a felony stateside, and then get deported, Chelgren proposes that those individuals should be executed if they enter again illegally.

The lawmaker’s plan, which he shared with the Knoxville Journal-Express for a profile on his fledgling congressional campaign, may seem like the loony fantasy of a local politician. But Chelgren’s rhetoric fits right in with bile-spewing elements of the right that now appear to have been mainstreamed with the rise of Trump, who famously claimed that many undocumented immigrants are “rapists” and “criminals.”

The immigrant execution idea comes after Chelgren compared Iowa’s early childhood programs to Nazi indoctrination camps and argued that recipients of child support should be drug tested at the behest of the person making the payments.

The Iowa Democratic Party called Chelgren’s immigration solution “vile, hateful, and downright deplorable,” and “a dangerous new low for the Republican Party.” And a spokesman for Chelgren’s own state party renounced the capital punishment proposal: “These remarks do not represent the values and beliefs of Iowa Republicans. Period.”

Chelgren did not respond when The Daily Beast reached out to him for further comment on the scheme. But he stood by his remarks in an interview with the Des Moines Register, telling the paper that he was suggesting execution only for repeat offenders who intend to commit a felony or an act of terror.

Critics of his remarks—including his own Republican colleagues—were just “race-baiting,” he said.

“I am looking at people who are deported and who re-enter the country illegally,” he added. “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.”

The Trump presidential campaign did not reply when asked if the business mogul would consider Chelgren as his running mate.