Remaining defiant and unrepentant Rep. Steve King on Thursday challenged his critics to debate him on immigration reform.
"I challenge people to debate with me because I believe one of two things," the Iowa Republican said in a 20-minute speech on the House floor, The Hill
reports. "If I can't sustain myself in debate, I need to go get some more information, I need to get better informed, or could it be that I'm wrong?"
King has been under fire by both Republicans and Democrats since last week, when his controversial comments about immigration reform were published in a Newsmax TV
He had charged that supporters of reform depicted immigrants as law-abiding achievers, when in reality many criminals would also benefit from a pathway to citizenship.
"For everyone who's 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 said in the Newsmax interview. "Those people would be legalized with the same act."
Even House Speaker John Boehner called King's comments “deeply offensive and wrong,” saying they would make immigration reform tougher to address in Congress.
Still, King stood behind his position on Thursday.
"Our southern border is porous," he said, according to the Hill. "It's not as porous as it was seven or eight years ago, mainly because the economy has grown in Mexico at about twice the rate that it's grown in the United States over the last four and a half or five years."
"Eighty to 90 percent of the illegal drugs consumed in America come from or through Mexico," King said. "I can tell you that in Mexico they are recruiting kids to be drug smugglers, between the ages of 11 and 18.”
Mexico, the congressman said, jails about 800 children for trafficking drugs every year. The U.S. captures some, too, he said.
"Every night, some come across the border, smuggling drugs across the border," King said. "The media is replete with this."
He urged legislators to think critically on the issue, the Hill reports.
"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," King said. "We have to be critical thinkers. We have to be analytical. We should understand facts from emotion."
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