Editor’s Note: This story was updated with comment from Jay Townsend at 9:16 a.m. on April 5.
House candidate Reinier Prijten in 2010 wrote a racially-charged blog post that suggested the United States’ Visa Waiver Program made the country vulnerable to terrorism because it could also be used by citizens of some European countries who also hold a passport from a majority-Muslim nation.
“Citizens from countries who would normally need a visa to enter the U.S. are permitted without one because they use a different passport,” Prijten wrote. “This is of particular concern for travelers from Europe as it is home to the largest Muslim population outside the Muslim world.”
Prijten filed for candidacy in the 11th congressional district on Wednesday. The district is currently represented by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).
The blog was also posted on RedState.com.
“Most European Muslims have dual citizenship. One passport from their (Muslim) country of origin and one from their (European) country of residence. Muslims in Europe are more radical than those in the U.S. due to its proximity to the Middle East and the generally liberal pro-Palestinian European media,” Prijten wrote. “In addition European Muslims are less integrated in society than in the U.S. and are consider [sic] underclass rather than middle class for most American Muslims.”
The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens or nationals from a list countries, most of which are in Europe, to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa.
The program was amended in 2015 to exclude citizens of eligible countries who had traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 and those who were also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
Jay Townsend, a spokesperson for Prijten’s campaign, said Prijten stood by the blog post.
“Mr. Prijten believes his 2010 blog post was an accurate description of lax security measures that existed at the time; visa laws which allowed unfettered entry of people from countries that sponsor terrorism,” Townsend said. “He was pleased when the Obama Administration closed this loophole in 2015, and tightened security measures on those entering the United States from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.”
Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas, who is Muslim, said the blog post raised some questions about the candidate’s policy positions but added he was not ready to write the candidate off.
“I don’t know Reinier. I spoke to him for the first time today, briefly. We’re working on dates in which to get together and meet and have a conversation,” Barlas said. “My position is I don’t support any candidate until I know who they are and what they stand for and, ultimately, what their electability assessment is. And I’m not ready at this point to make any sort of definitive statement on Reinier until I’ve had a chance to meet with him.”