Republican Rep. Steve King on Thursday said the narrative told by young undocumented immigrants that they were brought to the U.S. by their parents is made up and they willingly entered the U.S. illegally.
King, an Iowa Republican with of record of making controversial statements, made the comments in a CNN interview. They come after President-elect Donald Trump told Time Magazine he could work something out for the young immigrants who arrived as children, often called DREAMers.
King said he has seen "packs of marijuana around the backs of young men that are walking across the border."
He argued that despite acting as drug mules, they could get protection from deportation through the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, DACA, program created by President Barack Obama's executive action. The program shields young immigrants from deportation and allows them to work. But anyone convicted of certain crimes is prohibited from acquiring DACA.
King, who campaigned with Trump and endorsed him, took a jab at the president-elect.
"I don't want to let this go because somebody's heart got a little softer than it was before the election," a referral to Trump's Time interview.
Trump gave Time no details on what he might do for Dreamers, but expressed empathy.
"We’re going to work something out. On a humanitarian basis it’s a very tough situation. We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. But that’s a very tough situation," Trump told Time.
“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen," Trump told Time.
After the election, Obama warned Trump to think long and hard before endangering Dreamers.
Related: Obama to Trump: Think 'Long and Hard' About Endangering Dreamers
During the campaign, Trump pledged to rescind the executive action by Obama including the action to create the DACA program. He also pledged to deport people in the country illegally. His immigration adviser Kris Kobach said after Trump's election that there is no "free pass" for anyone here illegally and projected that immigrants would pack up and leave.
This latest comment by King is not the first time he has broadly described Dreamers as drug traffickers.
In 2013 King claimed that Dreamers had “calves the size of cantaloupes” because they were hauling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.
King came under fire in July for asking Chris Hayes on MSNBC if non-white people helped build modern society.
"I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about — where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"