Republican Iowa State Sen. Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa said he’d support capital punishment for immigrants who re-enter the U.S. illegally.
Chelgren made the statement during an interview with the Journal Express in which he announced a bid for Congress, saying he’d support execution for individuals who come into the U.S. illegally, get deported and then enter illegally a second time.
“There is no reason to have felons here who threaten our way of life,” Chelgren said.
State Republicans immediately distanced themselves from Chelgren’s comments, and he quickly began garnering harsh criticism.
“These remarks do not represent the values and beliefs of Iowa Republicans. Period,” Iowa Republican Party spokesman Charlie Szold said.
Chelgren later doubled down on his comments, telling The Associated Press he was referring specifically to immigrants with felony convictions attempting to re-enter the country with criminal intent.
“I think capital punishment should be considered for people who are felons and re-enter this country illegally, yes,” he said.
“We have to make sure we are not incentivizing people whose only intent is to victimize. Those are my beliefs and my beliefs alone and I stand by them."