(AP Photo/Cliff Owen ) (Cliff Owen/AP)

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is defending comments he made last week that some undocumented high school students are drug smugglers.

Speaking against the DREAM Act or similar legislation that would give many illegal immigrants who came to the country as children legal status, King argued in an interview with Newsmax that many of the would-be beneficiaries are drug mules. 

“It seems as though I have a few critics out there, but those who have been advocating for the DREAM Act have been trying to make it about valedictorians," King said in an interview with Radio Iowa. "I don’t disagree that there are DREAMers that are valedictorians, but it also would legalize those that are smuggling drugs into the United States."

In his original comments, King claimed that “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.”

In his interview Tuesday evening, he doubled down on those comments saying, "We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they've been doing for months."

Republican leaders in the House condemned King's comments. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called them "wrong" and "hateful." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said they were "inexcusable." During a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) described King's words as "beneath the dignity of this body."

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who has been heavily involved in immigration reform efforts, expressed hope Wednesday that King regretted his remarks.

"There's nobody in the conference who would say such a thing and I hope that he, if he thought about it, he wouldn't say such a thing again," Labrador said.

Undeterred, King told Breitbart News Wednesday that the pushback was a sign that he's winning the debate.

"When people start calling you names, that’s what confirms you've won the debate.”