Rep. Steve King has refused to back down from claims that Mexican children often are used to smuggle drugs into the United States, despite widespread bipartisan condemnation that his comments are insensitive and wrong.

The Iowa Republican, an outspoken critic of immigration reform, took to the House floor Thursday afternoon to defend his stance, saying that drug lords in Mexico are routinely “recruiting kids to be drug smugglers.”

“Every night some come across the border, smuggling drugs across the border,” he said. “Increasingly the higher value drugs — heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine in some form or another — are being strapped to the bodies sometimes of young girls, teenage girls.”

To keep the drug mules out, King says the U.S. should build multiple lines of defense along its border with Mexico.

“We need a secure border, we need to build a fence, a wall and another fence so we’ve got two patrolling zones,” he said.

A nationwide maelstrom erupted after King told the conservative website Newsmax last week that for every young illegal immigrant who comes to the U.S. and becomes a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there” who are forced to smuggle drugs across the border.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday morning sharply rebuked King, calling the Iowan’s comments “offensive and wrong.”

“What [King] said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party,” the speaker said.

But King seemed to push back at his critics during his floor speech, saying “no nation like the United States of America can continue to grow and be a strong nation if we are going to judge people because they disagree with our agenda rather than the content of their statement.”