Rep.Steve King (R-Iowa) believes that the influx of unauthorized immigration into the United States is "undermining our culture and civilization", as he told conservative site Newsmax last week. Speaking on Thursday on the House floor, he attempted to clarify just what he meant by "culture and civilization" in a roundabout defense of another set of remarks he made during the interview with Newsmax which have kicked up a cloud of controversy and earned him criticism from leaders of his own party.  Watch a clip from his speech below.

King had expressed sympathy for certain young undocumented immigrants whose parents were brought to the country illegally as children. He qualified that sympathy, however, by adding that for every one of them who is 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".

King's speech saw him tracing the origin of Western civilization to Mosaic law, which, he said, "came down from the mountain, was handed to civilization, it emerged through the Greek civilization as the Greeks were developing their Age of Reason. We're talking about the foundation of Western Civilization, and almost concurrently with that, Roman law was emerging as well." The claim is a dubious one: neither Greek nor Roman law is understood by most historians as having its origins in Moses.

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The Iowa congressman also made reference to the unjust trial of Jesus in a Roman court, seemingly to give an example of the injustice of Roman law, and proceeded to ask his peers in Congress to imagine "what it would be like if this Congress - and this culture which directs this Congress - what if we decided, you're going to have limited speech."

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"Certain things, you can't say, and we'll give you the list of words you can't utter because if you do, you are going to be violating somebody's sense of political correctness. What if we said you can assemble - but we are going to diminish your right to assemble because sometimes we disagree with what comes out of those meetings. The Greeks did that," he said.

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King went on to connect this history to his claim for American exceptionalism and proceeded from there to indicate that the "porous" nature of the US-Mexico border represented a danger to the strength of the nation.

"No nation should have an open borders policy; no nation should have a blind-eye policy towards the enforcement of the law. No nation can long remain a great nation if they decide to sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of political expediency. 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. We have to be critical thinkers."