A Hispanic Democratic lawmaker blasted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Tuesday for comments he made recently regarding immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the Republican's statements "beneath the dignity" of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) called out King for the comments during a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing on how Congress might establish the legal status of the children of illegal immigrants. With King sitting across the dais, Garcia read the comments and then said: "It is offensive. And it is beneath the dignity of this body."
King didn't respond or clarify his comments when he spoke just a few moments later.
In a recent interview with the conservative Web site Newsmax, King said that legalizing undocumented immigrants will not occur because of the high number of undocumented immigrants who carry drugs across the border.
"Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in," King told Newsmax in an interview last week. "It wasn't their fault. It's true in some cases, but they aren't all valedictorians. They weren't all brought in by their parents."
"For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King said later in the interview. “Those people would be legalized with the same act."
King is arguably the most outspoken critic of attempts to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. Most recently, he sparred with Univision News anchor Jorge Ramos regarding comments King made comparing some immigrants to dogs. He also sponsored a measure successfully added to a Homeland Security appropriations bill that would force the Obama administration to once again deport the children of illegal immigrants and he's suggested that immigration reform would be "far worse" than the health-care reform law if enacted by Congress.
The comments were made to Newsmax last week, but weren't widely circulated until NBC Latino and TalkingPointsMemo aggregated the comments Tuesday. In the fast-paced political environment of today, outside political groups responded immediately. Brad Woodhouse, president of the liberal, pro-immigration reform group Americans United for Change, called King's comments "disgusting" and deplorable.
Brian Walsh, a longtime GOP consultant, quickly took to Twitter to disparage King, saying that he should apologize and "fellow [Republicans] should condemn" what King said.