Rep. Steve King of Iowa is standing by his characterization of the young undocumented immigrants as mostly “drug smugglers,” saying that critics who called his language inappropriate “apparently don’t have to use their brain.”
In an interview with Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson, the Republican congressman said that his controversial statement was based on real descriptions of young drug traffickers that he had heard from Border Patrol agents.
“I said for every valedictorian, you have a hundred 130-pound drug smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes,” King said, repeating his comments from an interview with Newsmax. “And that comes from being down on the border, spending days and nights down there in multiple trips and time with the Border Patrol. That description essentially came from them.”
King referenced objections raised Tuesday by Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Florida, who called that language “beneath the dignity” of Congress and the country.
“Of course, he didn’t have an alternative number,” King told Radio Iowa. “He didn’t suggest that there are more valedictorians than there are drug mules, but it’s enough for anybody to be offended these days. They apparently don’t have to use their brain.”
In a separate phone interview with Breitbart News, King said the criticism of his comments shows that his argument is valid.
"When people start calling you names, that’s what confirms you've won the debate," he said.
Garcia’s condemnations were echoed later Tuesday by King’s fellow Republicans, with blunt rebukes from House Speaker John Boehner, who called King’s language “hateful,” and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is working on legislation to address a possible path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Republican leaders in the House have not taken up Senate-passed legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million people in the country illegally, but they appear open to measures similar to the DREAM Act to address young immigrants specifically.
“If those who advocate for the DREAM Act, if they choose to characterize this about valedictorians, I gave them a different image that we need to be thinking about because we just simply can’t be passing legislation looking only at one component of what would be millions of people,” King said.
First published July 24 2013, 8:12 AM