In an interview with Newsmax last week, Rep. Steve King, Republican from Iowa, said he had "sympathy" for some undocumented immigrants brought here illegally by their parents as children. But, he added, that doesn't mean he supports legislation offering them a path to citizenship. "For everyone who's a valedictorian," said King, "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. These people would be legalized with the same act."

Now, as the House Judiciary Committee contemplates a bill which would grant legal status and eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants, King's comments emerged into the spotlight. In response, GOP leaders in the House have criticized the Iowa representative.

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "What he said is wrong. There can be honest disagreements without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that."

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In a statement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who along with Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is crafting the aforementioned bill, also distanced himself from King's remarks. "I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable," the statement read.

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On Tuesday, King defended his remarks in an interview with Radio Iowa, saying that drug mules could be identified by their "physical characteristics" and adding that he made the comments because he thought DREAMers needed to be portrayed in a different way than normal.

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"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, going through the desert with 75 pounds of drugs on their back," 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."

According to an ABC News fact check article published earlier this month, studies indicate that first-generation immigrants are 45 percent less likely to commit a violent crime than third-generation Americans; immigrants are also much less likely to be in prison than native-born Americans.