WASHINGTON – Republican leaders are sharply criticizing Rep. Steve King after controversial comments he made about illegal immigrants in America to an online publication were read aloud during a congressional hearing Tuesday.
The Iowa Republican told Newsmax last week that the majority of young illegal immigrants in the country were involved in the drug trade.
"For everyone who's a valedictorian," King said, "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. Those people would be legalized with the same act."
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 U.S. as children, called King's comments inexcusable.
House Speaker John Boehner called them "hateful."
"What he said is wrong," Boehner said. "There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language."
On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., read King’s comments out loud during a hearing.
“When members of this committee -- when members of this House -- use inflammatory language, use offensive language, it does not help the progress,” Garcia said. He later added that comments such as King’s are “beneath the dignity of this body and this country.”
Calls to King’s office for comment were not immediately returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.