In a sign of the difficulties GOP leaders face in keeping their unruly caucus on-message, retiring tea party firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Wednesday that the immigrants given new protections by the president could become “illiterate” Democratic voters.

“The social cost will be profound on the U.S. taxpayer — millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language,” Bachmann told reporters at the Capitol. “Even though the president says they won’t be able to vote, we all know that many, in all likelihood, will vote.”

Bachmann added: “The president has a very single-minded vision. He’s looking at new voters for 2016.... People do vote without being a citizen. It’s a wink and a nod, we all know it’s going to happen."

When asked by The Washington Post why she chose to use the word “illiterate” to describe a group of mostly Spanish-speaking workers, Bachmann said her view was informed by trips to the border.

“Some are, some aren’t,” Bachmann said of the literacy of illegal immigrants. “I’ve been down to the border. The reason why I would say that is I spent four days at the border and spoke to American Hispanics on the border. That’s what they told me. Those are not Michele Bachmann’s words, those words came from Hispanics who live on the border…. I’m not using a pejorative term against people who are non-American citizens. I’m only repeating what I heard from Hispanic Americans down at the border. That’s what they told me.”

Bachmann, a former presidential candidate, is one of several conservatives in Congress urging the leadership to use the upcoming government funding bills as part of the GOP’s response to the president’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration system. She is working closely with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to craft a strategy for the conservative wing of the House GOP.