Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Tuesday defended remarks he made about most illegal immigrants being drug runners, saying the “physical characteristics” of many in the country illegally was evidence that they’d been hauling drugs across the border.

“It’s not something that I’m making up. This is real,” King said in an interview with Radio Iowa.

“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, 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.”

King, one of the staunchest opponents of immigration reform in the House, stoked controversy over the weekend when he said he opposed measures to grant citizenship to young illegal immigrants, some of whom were brought to the country by their parents, because the majority are drug runners.

“For everyone who's 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 said. “These people would be legalized with the same act.”

Those remarks invited sharp criticism from House GOP leaders, including Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat MORE (R-Ohio), who called the comments “wrong” and “hateful.”

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said Wednesday that nine of its members would take to the House floor to “denounce the harmful comments.”

“It seems as though I have a few critics out there, but those who have been advocating for the Dream Act have been trying to make it about valedictorians,” King told Radio Iowa. 

“I don’t disagree that there are Dreamers that are valedictorians, but it also would legalize those that are smuggling drugs into the United States. I made a comment in an interview last week … to Newsmax … and I said: ‘For every valedictorian, you have a hundred 130-pound drug smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes.’  And that comes from being down on the border, spending days and nights down there in multiple trips and time with the Border Patrol. … That description essentially came from them.”