RACINE, Wisconsin — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) strongly condemned Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for accusing the vast majority of young undocumented immigrants of being drug smugglers.
King garnered controversy after recently remarking that for every DREAMer — undocumented youth who were brought to this country by their parents at a young age — who is a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Ryan, the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate, denounced King during a bilingual town hall on Friday, saying the Iowa congressman’s comments were “wrong.”
QUESTIONER: The Republicans are on the cusp of losing a generation of the Latino vote. Rep. King is doing no favor comparing, for every DREAMer, there’s 100 drug mules.
RYAN: Question number one. Rep. King’s remarks I disagree with and I disavow. They were wrong. And they should be said as such.
Ryan also gave more details about the House’s approach to immigration reform during the town hall. He reiterated his own support for immigration reform including a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country, but said the House would not be taking up the reform package that passed the Senate this month. Ryan also said he expected the House to proceed with legislation sometime in October.
King has been roundly criticized for his statement, even by other members of his own party. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called his comments “hateful” and “ignorant”, and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said they were “irresponsible and reprehensible.”
Still, King remains highly influential in the Republican caucus on immigration reform. He recently authored an amendment in the House to deport DREAMers, which passed with nearly unanimous Republican support. Ryan was among the 221 GOPers who supported the measure. King also sits on the powerful House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
For his part, King has refused to back down on the matter. During a radio interview Friday, he went so far as to claim he had personally caught many undocumented youth with cantaloupe calves smuggling drugs across the border.