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King draws fire from fellow Republicans for comment about young immigrants

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa drew rebukes from Democrats and Republicans alike Tuesday after claiming that most young undocumented immigrants are involved in the drug trade.

In an interview with Newsmax, King said that -- out of the population of young undocumented immigrants -- "for every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

That remark from the noted immigration reform foe prompted a sharp response from Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is working on legislation to offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

"I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable," Cantor said.

House Speaker John Boehner called the characterization "hateful."

"What he said is wrong," Boehner said. "There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that."

And South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy argued that "the number of people that have Steve King's precise ideology with respect to immigration is not a sufficient number to derail anything."

Democrats also slammed King.

In a House subcommittee hearing on the issue of young undocumented immigrants, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., quoted King's comment and called it "beneath the dignity of this body and this country."

And White House senior advisor Dan Pfieffer tweeted "Every member of the GOP should condemn Rep King for comparing the Dreamers to drugmules, they represent what is great about this country."

NBC's Frank Thorp contributed to this report.