House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said it was “offensive and wrong” for Rep. Steve King to call young illegal immigrants “drug mules,” adding to a growing bipartisan list of lawmakers to denounce the Iowa Republican for his controversial immigration comments.
“There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” said Boehner, R-Ohio, during his weekly briefing with reporters. “What [King] said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”
King, a vocal critical of immigration reform, told the conservative website Newsmax last week that for every young illegal immigrant who becomes a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
King has since defended his comments, telling Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson the scenario is “not something that I’m making up.”
“This is real. We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they’ve been doing for months,” he said.
“And 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.”
House Republicans have opposed the Dream Act, a bill pushed by President Obama to provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors. But Boenher said he is committed to “fixing a broken immigration system.”
“We’re working on a common-sense, step-by-step approach to ensure that the American people have confidence that we’re addressing these issues openly and honestly,” he said. “Our focus is on getting the policy right so we fix our immigration once and for all and help our economy grow.”