By Clay Schuldt, The Journal - MANKATO - Republican First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn on Wednesday called for an all-out halt of the United States refugee program during a series of press conferences in Mankato and Rochester.
Republican First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn on Wednesday called for an all-out halt of the United States refugee program during a series of press conferences in Mankato and Rochester.
Hagedorn described the refugee restriction as a "timeout" to prevent or minimize the risk of future attacks by Islamic terrorists.
"We have a terrorist recruiting problem in our country and in Minnesota," said Hagedorn, citing the recent trials of Minnesota youths attempting to join ISIS.
Hagedorn described Minnesota as "ground zero" for ISIS and Islamic terrorist recruitment.
"We should take a refugee program timeout. The mere fact that we have these problems with existing refugees shows that the process for vetting is not working for all refugees," he said.
Hagedorn asserted he wants an "across the board" timeout on refugees. He also wants to restrict immigration from countries that "hate America" and is in favor of revoking the citizenship or permanent residency of any American who conspires with terrorist organizations. Hagedorn specified that any area that subscribes to Sharia Law should be restricted.
Hagedorn did not go into specifics on which countries held anti-American values, but pointed to residents of Saudi Arabia staying in the United States on expired visas.
"Do we want them in the United States or should we maybe send them back to Saudi Arabia?," he asked. "I say we should probably round them up and send them back."
Hagedorn gave no time limit on this refugee restriction, saying it needs to be in place until the government could figure out a plan. Hagedorn felt creating safe zones overseas and working to repatriate refugees was a better plan for keeping the United States safe.
Hagedorn was asked how the refugee ban would prevent terrorist attacks by terrorists born in the United States, such as last weekend's mass killing in an Orlando nightclub, in which the shooter was born in New York.
Hagedorn quickly pointed to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, in which one of the two shooters was foreign-born, entered with falsified information and should never been allowed in the country.
Hagedorn also said the Orlando shooter was the son of Afghanistan parents.
"(In) Afghanistan, 99 percent believe in Sharia, 99 percent believe it is okay to go out and kill homosexuals. Those are not American values, those are very radical values."
When asked if he supported presidential candidate Donald Trump's suggested ban on Muslim immigration, Hagedorn stopped short of saying yes, but said:
"If the President of the United States and his advisors made a decision that it would not be in the best interest of the United States to bring people in from hostile countries around the world, that is probably something I'd support."
The issue of gun control was also addressed. Hagedorn described gun regulation, such as prohibiting gun ownership by those on government watch lists, as "tricky," because simply placing citizens on a government list does not afford for due process. Hagedorn suggested that if a method was available for the government to openly certify cases in which individuals should be restricted from buying guns he would consider it, but also admitted he did not believe gun control or guns were the problem.
"It's a problem with people with a strong ideology that is at odds with Western culture and our American way of life," he said.
Hagedorn drew a sharp contrast between this generation of immigrants and Ellis Island immigrants, saying immigrants in the past were taught how to be Americans.
"One of the problems we face is that people are not assimilating the way they did at one time."
Hagedorn criticized recent refugees for not doing what needs to be done to become American.
"We want people that are going to give up their ways as far as being filled with an ideology or things contrary to our culture," he said.
Hagedorn was asked to comment further on how he would address home-grown terrorists as most of these recent mass shootings are from people born in America. Hagedorn said that in most cases these shootings were done by first or second-generation Americans raised by parents with tough attitudes, but said he was open to a variety of ideas to make the country safer.
Hagedorn also attacked incumbent First District Congressman Tim Walz's record of supporting President Barak Obama and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whose policies he believed led to the rise of ISIS, the expansion of Islamic radicalism and general destabilization in the Middle East. In a press release he described Walz's attitudes as "politically correct" and naïve.
"[Walz] has not even acknowledged that we are at war with Islamic supremacists who adhere to the ideology of radical Islam," said Hagedorn. He believes any officeholder that balked at identifying the enemy cannot be counted upon to defeat the enemy.
"As far as I am concerned, the era of political correctness is over on this issue."
Hagedorn is pushing for greater security on U.S. borders, blaming both Republicans and Democrats for not doing so after the terrorist attacks.
"It's a disgrace that 15 years after 9/11 that we have not secured the borders," he said.
Hagedorn is against amnesty for illegal aliens and suggests fixing the visa and passport system by implementing a biometric entry/exit system into the United States.
Hagedorn is seeking to win a rematch against Walz. Hagedorn and Walz were opponents for Minnesota's First District in 2014, with Walz taking 54 percent of the vote. Before Hagedorn becomes the Republican nominee for 2016, he must win a primary against fellow Republican candidate Steve Williams.