Ex-Border Patrol Agent Matthew Bowen Sentenced to Probation for Running Over Migrant

H5 ex border patrol agent sentenced probation running over migrant tucson matthew bowen guatemalan antolin rolando lopez aguilar

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Tucson sentenced former Arizona Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen Wednesday to three years of supervised release and an $8,000 fine for intentionally running over a Guatemalan migrant with a pickup truck in 2017 — and then falsifying records about the assault. The man he struck, Antolin Rolando López-Aguilar, survived. Court filings show Bowen had sent a slew of racist text messages on his phone, referring to immigrants as “mindless murdering savages” and “beaners,” among other insults.

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‘Greatest Nation on Earth,’ US has world’s highest rate of children in detention: UN study

More than 100,000 children are being held in migration-related detention in the US, a new UN study finds.

Child migrants are seen outside the US Border Patrol McAllen Station in a makeshift encampment in McAllen, Texas in May [File: Loren Elliott/Reuters]
Child migrants are seen outside the US Border Patrol McAllen Station in a makeshift encampment in McAllen, Texas in May [File: Loren Elliott/Reuters]

The United States has the world’s highest rate of children in detention, including more than 100,000 in immigration-related custody that violates international law, the author of a United Nations study said on Monday.

Worldwide more than seven million people under age 18 are held in jails and police custody, including 330,000 in immigration detention centres, independent expert Manfred Nowak said.

More:

Children should only be detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible, according to the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

“The United States is one of the countries with the highest numbers – we still have more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention in the (US),” Nowak told a news briefing.

“Of course separating children, as was done by the Trump administration, from their parents and even small children at the Mexican-US border is absolutely prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children,” he added.

There was no immediate reaction from US authorities. Novak said US officials had not replied to his questionnaire sent to all countries.

‘Inhuman treatement’

Novak said the US had ratified major international treaties such as those guaranteeing civil and political rights and banning torture, but was the only country not to have ratified the pact on the rights of children.

“The way they were separating infants from families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States to me constitutes inhuman treatment, and that is absolutely prohibited by the two treaties,” said Nowak, a professor of international law at the University of Vienna.

Child immigration - US
Protesters hold signs outside of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children while members of Congress tour the facility [File: Lynne Sladky/AP Photo]

The US detains an average of 60 out of every 100,000 children in its justice system or immigration-related custody, Nowak said, the world’s highest rate, followed by countries such as Bolivia, Botswana and Sri Lanka.

Mexico, where many Central American migrants have been turned back at the US border, also has high numbers, with 18,000 children in immigration-related detention and 7,000 in prisons, he said.

The US rate compared with an average of five per 100,000 in Western Europe and 14-15 per 100,000 in Canada, he said.

At least 29,000 children, mainly linked to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) fighters, are held in northern Syria and in Iraq – with French citizens among the biggest group of foreigners, Nowak added.

Even if some of these children had been child soldiers, he said, they should be mainly treated as victims, not perpetrators, so that they could be rehabilitated and reintegrated in society.

Trump’s immigration policy

Since coming to office, US President Donald Trump has implemented a crackdown on immigration. As part of his “zero-tolerance” policy at the border, his government implemented a practice of separating families. Following public outrage, Trump formally ended the practice in June 2018, but immigration advocates say family separation continues in other ways.

Last week, an analysis of US government data by The Associated Press and PBS’s Fronline showed 69,550 migrant children were held in US government custody over the past year.

AP and Frontline also found that children held in government custody spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in previous years.

ICE Family Separation protest file photo
US President Donald Trump has escalated a crackdown on immigration since coming to office [File: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

In September, a judge blocked new Trump administration rules that would have enabled the government to keep migrant children in detention facilities with their parents indefinitely.

The judge said the rules conflict with a 1997 settlement agreement that requires the government to release immigrant children detained along the border as quickly as possible to relatives in the US and says they can only be held in facilities licensed by a state.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly said that detention is not suitable for children, who may suffer numerous negative physical and emotional symptoms.

The Trump administration has faced harsh criticism of its temporary border patrol stations, where lawyers and internal government watch-dogs reported hundreds of children and families were held in squalid conditions.

Maine foster children linger in state care longer than most states

Extended stays – the state’s 21-month-long median duration is the nation’s third-highest – contribute to worse outcomes for children, research suggests.

Amanda Sweden moved into her first foster home at age 9 – a yellow ranch in Bradford –  scared and wishing that she would soon reunite with her mother. Sweden said state child protection workers told her that would happen within days or weeks.

Instead, Sweden spent the rest of her childhood in foster homes, group homes or homeless. At the age of 16, she ran away from a group home twice.

“In foster care, no space is ever yours. It’s always someone else’s,” said Sweden, 28. “By the end, foster care to me was the prison, and I would rather be homeless than be there.”

Sweden, of Bangor, is not alone in spending a long time in foster care.

In Maine, the median stay in the foster care system is 21 months at the time of exiting the system, third-highest among all the states and well above the national median of 14 months, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data from 2017, the most recent year available. Maine trailed only Illinois and the District of Columbia, where the median stays are 33 months and 24 months, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, in New Mexico the median stay in foster care is 5.6 months, and in several other states the median time children spend is less than a year.

Research shows that extended time in foster care produces worse outcomes for children, including increased risk of behavioral and mental health problems, homelessness and poor school performance, according to Casey Family Programs, a national nonprofit think tank. Reunification with parents, when it can be done safely, is best for children.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the foster care system, prioritizes family reunification, and officials point to recent gains that have been made in reuniting families sooner or, in some cases, finding adoption placements.

But the state faces enormous challenges. Reports of child abuse and neglect have escalated, and the opioid epidemic has pushed more children into the foster care system at a time when the number of foster homes has declined.

“This is not going to be a quick fix, as our resources had become very thin,” said Chris Bicknell, executive director of New Beginnings in Lewiston, a nonprofit that serves homeless youth and helps foster children who are aging out of the system. “They have to rebuild a department that had been demolished from the inside out during the LePage administration.”

Sweden, who entered the foster care system because of her mother’s drug use and legal problems, wouldn’t share a home with her mother again until after she turned 16.

At her first foster home, she cried herself to sleep every night and kept a photo of her mother with her at all times. She remembers the hunger – the intense cravings emanating from the pit of her stomach when her foster family refused to feed her, which was often.

If she didn’t finish her dinner because she was a picky eater – and she didn’t like meatloaf and squash, among other dishes – her foster mother withheld food. Or if she broke a minor rule, like missing curfew by a few minutes or arguing with other kids, she knew that meant she would go hungry.

“We weren’t troublemakers, but any little thing we did wrong, we weren’t allowed to eat the next day,” Sweden said. “Sometimes we went days without eating and would get so hungry we would throw up bile. Then (my foster mother) would get angry with us and give us a piece of toast.”

One time at the home, Sweden saw other hungry foster children sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to scrounge for food. The next morning, her foster mother had locked the kitchen cabinets.

The Bradford home was run by a now-deceased senior couple fostering several children, Sweden said, and it was one of eight foster homes or group homes she lived in before aging out of the system at age 18.

PERSISTENT PROBLEM

The length of time in foster care has been a persistent issue in Maine, spanning Democratic and Republican administrations. In 2008, Maine had the fourth-highest median time spent in foster care of all states, at 21.7 months.

Child welfare experts say limiting the amount of time in foster care is, in general, best for children.

“Longer stays in foster care increase the chance of multiple placements, which are associated with problems of attachment, poor school performance and behavioral difficulties. Those who stay in care the longest are at risk of becoming one of more than 20,000 young people who leave the foster care system each year with no achieved permanency outcome, at risk of homelessness, unemployment, pregnancy, and poor educational achievement,” according to the Seattle-based Casey Family Programs, which advocates for public policy that benefits at-risk children.

The longer a child stays in foster care, the chance of being reunified with the biological family plummets. One quarter of foster care placements that lasted 25 months or longer were reunified, compared to 54 percent who were reunified within one year, according to a 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Several factors may be contributing to the lengthy stays in Maine’s foster care system. Staffing levels in the state Office of Child and Family Services dropped significantly during the LePage administration, leaving fewer caseworkers to handle the job of assessing abuse and neglect cases, placing children and evaluating whether reunification was appropriate.

The opioid crisis has afflicted thousands of Maine families, forcing intervention by public officials to protect children from abuse or neglect while their parents struggle with the disorder and seek recovery in treatment programs.

Bottlenecks can occur in the foster care system, such as in the courts and because there’s a shortage of foster parents.

Determining why Maine children have historically spent so much time in foster care is difficult because the underlying reasons may change over time, said Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts in Lewiston, a nonprofit that works closely with Maine DHHS on child welfare programs.

It’s not just the number of caseworkers but what they are working on. If cases that were once considered low-risk are elevated to middle- or high-risk, that could take more time away from busy caseworkers who otherwise would be working on a reunification, he said.

Yardley said if a child is placed in a stable foster home, caseworkers may put those situations in the “low priority” pile because they have to attend to emergency situations. That could make the reunifications take longer.

And many of the cases are judgment calls, trying to assess the stability of the parents for reunification.

“It’s not a science; it’s an art,” said Yardley, a former DHHS caseworker. “There are so many variables, and it’s so complicated, that it’s hard to draw any sweeping conclusions.”

A BALANCING ACT

Melissa Hackett, outreach associate for the Maine Children’s Alliance, said many reasons can go into why the trend is long-running, such as a lack of prevention programs or access to substance use treatment that would give parents a chance to recover and reunite with their children. Without treatment, the parents may never stabilize or take longer to get to the point where the children could return.

“Ideally, children would never get removed from the home,” Hackett said. “If they must be removed, they should be reunited with family as quickly as possible, when it’s safe.” The next best option is for foster children to be adopted, if reunification isn’t possible, Hackett said.

The median time in state care is only one of a number of metrics used to evaluate the functioning of a foster care system, such as the strength of prevention programs and what percentage of children enter foster care, which in Maine, at 3.5 percent, is about the national average. In one area – placement with relatives – Maine does better than the national average, with 42 percent of foster children placed with a relative compared to the national average of 32 percent. Casey Family Programs has reported that research shows kinship placements are superior to those with non-kin foster parents.

Also, in recent years, the percentage of Maine children who re-enter the foster care system within a year after being reunited with their parents is among the best in the nation – between 3 and 5 percent. The national average is about 12 percent.

Yardley said it’s a balancing act, weighing whether the parents are stable enough for a child to return versus the harm of longer stays in foster care.

“There’s always these competing struggles,” Yardley said. “Children do better if they are able to reunite with their family, even if there’s some dysfunction in the family.”

Sweden said she should have had a chance to reunite with her mother much sooner than age 16.

“She has always treated me like I’m her favorite person,” Sweden said.

Dorothy Sweden, Amanda’s mom, said she feels bad her daughter went hungry and had traumatic experiences in foster care. She said she had problems with drugs, and was in jail for nine months, but she improved her life and should have gotten a chance to have her children returned.

“Nobody loves a child like their mother,” Dorothy Sweden said.

Yardley said extended time in foster care can weaken the bonds between parent and child and make reunification more difficult.

Some young Mainers had relatively good experiences in foster care.

Stephanie Gerard, 27, of Canaan said when her mother died when she was 15, she was without a family and ended up in foster care. In the first two placements, there were some personality conflicts, but the third foster family was “extremely supportive” during her last two years of high school at Erskine Academy.

“They took me in with open arms. They told me that you are part of this family now and not a foster family. They treated me the same as they would their own daughter,” said Gerard, who will enter the nursing program at Kennebec Valley Community College next year.

Although long stays in the foster care system are a chronic problem, the state has an array of programs to help teens when they age out of that system. This includes programs that help pay for higher education, rental assistance and day-to-day expenses until age 21 or 22.

There are also state caseworkers devoted to helping young adults who aged out of foster care become independent, teaching them things that they might not have learned in a foster home, such as balancing a checkbook or applying for a driver’s license.

“I feel like the world opens up to you once you age out,” said Mariah Knight, 22, a Westbrook native who entered foster care at age 12.

MORE DEMANDS ON SYSTEM

While family reunification when safe is a goal of the administration of Gov. Janet Mills, many challenges persist.

DHHS is hiring 33 more caseworkers, and Todd Landry, the new director of the Office of Child and Family Services, is advocating for doubling that number. If approved, that would bring the total to 380 caseworkers. The agency is also hiring 29 additional support staff and managers.

Yet while the state is ramping up hiring, reports of suspected abuse and neglect are climbing – from 7,463 in 2016 to 11,831 in 2018.

Also, more children are in state care, increasing from 1,724 in July 2018 to 2,195 in September 2019, according to DHHS. Nationally, the number of foster children declined slightly in 2018, from 441,000 in 2017 to 437,000 in 2018, the latest year for which national statistics were available.

Child welfare experts attribute the increase in abuse reports to more awareness after the highly publicized abuse deaths of two girls, 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy of Stockton Springs in 2018 and Kendall Chick, 4, of Wiscasset in 2017.

Meanwhile, there aren’t enough foster families for placements. The number of households that have signed up to be foster families has declined from 1,621 in 2015 to 1,536 this year.

Bette Hoxie, of Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, an Orono nonprofit, said most foster parents are good people who want to help children, but the system has become overwhelmed with demand for services. There are not enough foster families and caseworkers have too many cases, causing bottlenecks and frustration for people trying to help children who have suffered from trauma.

“Most people are in it for the right reasons,” Hoxie said of foster parents and herself, a long-time foster parent. “A very small percentage are found to have abused or neglected a child.”

Jackie Farwell, DHHS spokeswoman, said the department is working to increase the number of foster families willing to take on teenagers and other difficult placements.

“While children of all ages in out-of-home care need support, there is a particularly urgent need for families who can parent adolescents and teenagers, sibling groups with more than two children, and infants born affected by drugs or alcohol,” Farwell said in an email response to questions.

Farwell also said that, despite the increased demand, the agency is making strides.

“The increased workload within Office of Child and Family Services has challenged our staff, but we remain dedicated to the safety of the children in the department’s custody. OCFS’ data is indicative of this commitment, with 31 percent of children reaching permanency within 12 months of entering state custody as of September 2019. That number was 29 percent in September of last year. Despite the increase in the number of referrals, assessments, and children in care, OCFS has made gains in this area.”

Landry, the office director, is also proposing to revive a near-dormant family therapy initiative as a prevention program to help head off problems before they become acute.

California school shooting: Two teenage students killed in Santa Clarita

There were 24 such incidents last year, it says, but the casualty toll was higher, at 114. That includes the 17 people killed in the deadliest incident – at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Emotional reunions after the California school shooting

Two students, aged 16 and 14, have been killed and three others injured by a gunman who opened fire at a secondary school in California, officials say.

The victims died in a brief, 16-second gun attack shortly before classes began on Thursday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles.

The attack came on the 16th birthday of the suspect, named by US media as fellow student, Nathaniel Berhow.

The suspect then shot himself in the head and is in a critical condition.

Students and teachers spoke of how they barricaded themselves in classrooms amid chaotic scenes, carrying out an active shooter drill that many schools have implemented in recent years following deadly attacks around the country.

What do we know about the shooting?

It was first reported at 07:38 local time (15:38 GMT) on Thursday, LA county sheriff Alex Villanueva said, adding that police were at the scene within two minutes.

LA county sheriff: “I hate to have Saugus added to Sandy Hook and Columbine”

The suspect was standing in the school courtyard when he took a .45-calibre semi-automatic pistol from his backpack and opened fire for about 16 seconds before turning the gun on himself, Sheriff’s Captain Kent Wegener said.

“He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move,” Capt Wegener said.

Students barricaded themselves in classrooms under an active shooter drill for more than an hour as police tried to determine if the gunman was still at large.

Officers found six people suffering from gunshot wounds and transferred them to local hospitals. The suspect was later identified as one of those injured.

What do we know of the victims?

The names of those who died have not yet been released. They were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.

The three injured, also as-yet unnamed, were two girls, aged 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy. They are all in a stable condition.

All attended Saugus High School.

The suspect had no known connection to the victims, Capt Wegener said.

What has been revealed about the gunman?

The attack came on the suspect’s 16th birthday. The motive for the attack is unknown.

The FBI said it appeared he had acted alone and was not affiliated with any particular group or ideology.

The Associated Press quoted a fellow student, Brooke Risley, as saying the suspect was introverted but “naturally smart”, adding that he had a girlfriend and was a boy scout.

AP said the boy lived locally in a modest home, and that his father died two years ago. A neighbour told Reuters the boy had struggled with his father’s death.

Investigators have searched the home and interviewed the boy’s mother and girlfriend.

There were no initial indications that he had been bullied at school.

There were reports of an Instagram posting saying “Saugus have fun at school tomorrow”, but it was later revealed the account was not owned by the suspect.

How did students and parents react?

One student told NBC she was doing her homework when people started running. “I was really, really scared. I was shaking,” she said.

Saugus High School students “barricaded doors” during shooting

Another student, named as Azalea, told CBS she and her classmates had barricaded the classroom door with chairs. “It was just really scary, having everybody panic and call their parents, saying they love you.”

Teacher Katie Holt told NBC she was huddled in her office with 30 students when a girl ran in saying she had been shot. Ms Holt dressed the injuries as best she could her with her gunshot-wound kit, with a fellow student applying pressure.

There were emotional reunions once the lockdown was lifted.

Jeff Turner, 58, told the New York Times he found his daughter, Micah, upset and crying.

“She was saying, ‘I feel guilty that I didn’t stay and help the people who were shot,'” he said. “And that was the thing that made me break down in tears.”

How much security is there at Saugus?

The school has an unarmed sheriff’s deputy and nine “campus supervisors” with guard training, district administrator Collyn Nielson told Associated Press.

There are a number of security cameras but no metal detectors, and lockdown drills are held three times a year.

How have officials responded?

News of the attack emerged during a Senate debate on gun control legislation. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, was arguing for gun control when he was given a note with the news.

“We are complicit if we fail to act,” he said. “It is not just a political responsibility, it is a moral imperative.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement that his department took school shootings “very seriously” and would help the authorities “develop trainings and resources to improve response capabilities and better protect soft targets”.

Gun control, and the right to bear arms, is a divisive political issue in the US. About 40% of Americans say they own a gun or live in a household with one, according to a 2017 survey, and the rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in the country is the highest in the developed world.

According to the Washington Post, more than 230,000 young people in the US have experienced gun violence at school since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999.

The US journal Education Week has been listing school shootings since 2018. It says there have been 22 incidents that have resulted in death or injury so far in 2019.

There were 24 such incidents last year, it says, but the casualty toll was higher, at 114. That includes the 17 people killed in the deadliest incident – at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Figures for 2019 as of 15 November

Source: Education Week
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The Everytown gun control advocacy group, using separate methodology, said Saugus was the 85th incident of gunfire at a school this year, but that includes those where there were no casualties.

Maine: Veteran bus driver, Richard Tanguay, carrying Biddeford field hockey team charged with OUI (DWI)

A state trooper pulled the school bus over after he observed it speeding and driving erratically, according to Maine State Police.

State Trooper Patrick Hall, who was on routine patrol, stopped the school bus around 8 p.m. on the Maine Turnpike southbound in Scarborough after he observed it speeding in a construction zone, failing to signal lane changes, and failing to stay in one lane.

According to a news release posted Sunday on the state police Facebook page, Hall stopped the bus for erratic operation and speeding. Once he had pulled the bus driver over, Hall said he observed signs of impairment. Hall proceeded to conduct a field sobriety test on the driver, Richard Tanguay, 68, of Biddeford, before transporting him to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

At the jail, state police said that Tanguay was given an Intoxilyzer breath test and an exam by drug recognition experts from the Freeport Police Department. Tanguay was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, driving to endanger and endangering the welfare of a child, state police said.

Tanguay posted $500 bail and was released from the jail. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 9 in Portland District Court.

Attempts to reach Tanguay at his Biddeford home were unsuccessful Sunday night.

School officials said the bus was carrying about 30 coaches and student athletes from the Biddeford High School girls’ field hockey team, which had traveled to Oakland for the state Class A championship game. Biddeford lost the game, 3-0, to Skowhegan High School, snapping its 35-game unbeaten streak.

According to Biddeford School Superintendent Jeremy Ray, the school department’s designated spokesman on the incident, Tanguay has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation by the school department and by state police.

“We are cooperating with the authorities,” Ray said in a statement posted Sunday on Facebook. “Authorities do not believe alcohol was a factor, but are still investigating what caused the driver’s condition. We are not able to discuss additional details as this is a personnel matter. The police may elect to share additional information with the public when the time comes, but all parties are currently working to ferret out the facts.”

“We will continue to gather the facts and interview the employee before making any conclusions about this unfortunate development,” Ray said. “But, be clear. We have zero tolerance for any behavior that imperils students.”

Contacted by phone Sunday night, Ray described Tanguay as a full-time, veteran bus driver with more than 30 years of experience. Ray said the charges filed against Tanguay are not alcohol-related.

“What we do know for sure is that this man did not take a sip of alcohol,” said Ray.

Ray said that all school bus drivers must complete an annual Maine Department of Transportation physical exam and medications screen test to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Biddeford’s bus drivers underwent the physical exam in August, but Ray said the school department does not receive any details due to health privacy laws. All the school department gets is whether the doctor conducting the exam passed or failed the driver.

During their annual commercial driver’s license exam, drivers are required to disclose prescription medications. Doctors must determine if the drugs a driver has been prescribed will interfere with his or her ability to operate a bus, Ray said.

In addition to the annual screening tests, any employee who operates a vehicle for the Biddeford School Department is subject to random drug testing administered by a third party.

Ray said that no one on the bus Tanguay was driving reported noticing anything out of the ordinary during the ride back from Oakland.

Ray said that students texted or called their parents during the police stop, keeping them informed of what was happening. He said the field hockey coach, Caitlin Trembert, kept him informed as well. Ray in turn kept in communication with parents. He said a substitute bus driver was notified and drove the students’ bus back to Biddeford.

Saturday night’s incident was not the first one involving a school bus driver from York County accused of impaired driving. In 2010, a Saco school bus driver pleaded guilty to one count of drunken driving and two counts of endangering a child’s welfare. In December 2009, the driver was arrested after being removed from a bus as she was about to drive dozens of Saco Middle School students home. She was charged with drunken driving again after authorities learned that she had driven herself home from the police station after telling police she had arranged a ride.

Pathologist Says Jeffrey Epstein Was Strangled to Death!

H15 jeffrey epstein pathologist strangled to death homocide

A forensic pathologist hired by the brother of Jeffrey Epstein says the injuries that killed the multimillionaire sex abuser were consistent with strangulation — not a death by suicide, as a New York medical examiner reported. Dr. Michael Baden says a broken bone in Epstein’s neck is “extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.” Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August as he awaited trial on federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein once counted President Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his high-profile friends.

Steve King: Rape and incest ‘aided population growth’

Steve KingSteve King is known for his incendiary comments

Democrats are calling for a Republican congressman to resign after he defended abortion bans by saying that humankind might not exist but for rape or incest.

Without rape or incest “would there be any population of the world left?” nine-term lawmaker Steve King asked the Des Moines Register newspaper.

Mr King was defending anti-abortion legislation that does not make exceptions for rape or incest.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders soon demanded he step down.

“You are a disgrace. Resign,” Ms Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. Her remarks were quickly echoed by other 2020 Democratic hopefuls Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro.

A Republican lawmaker, Iowa state Senator Randy Feenstra, also criticised Mr King’s remarks.

“I am 100% pro-life but Steve King’s bizarre comments and behaviour diminish our message,” he wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Mr King told the Des Moines Register that the Republican leadership had stopped bills he sponsored banning abortions from advancing through the US House of Representatives.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” Mr King said on Wednesday.

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”