By Meghashyam Mali - 07/28/13 05:51 PM EDT
A prominent labor union is launching new online ads featuring controversial comments from GOP Rep. Steve King (Iowa), as they press House lawmakers to back comprehensive immigration reform.
The Spanish-language ad from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will run in the districts of seven House Republicans, according to a report from CNN.
In that interview, King criticized supporters of immigration reform for depicting illegal immigrants as law-abiding achievers, arguing that many were criminals who would 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," he said. "Those people would be legalized with the same act."
“This is offensive and an insult to our community. It’s time that Republicans choose between extremism or progress,” the ad continues, asking viewers to call their lawmaker and urge them to “reject the extremists” and to “join the majority of Americans in supporting immigration reform with a path to citizenship for our families.”
King’s comments led to sharp criticism with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling the remarks “deeply offensive and wrong.” Boehner said the comments would make immigration reform tougher to address in the House.
King defended his comments on the House floor on Thursday and challenged his critics to debate him on border policy.
"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.”
King has been a vocal critic of immigration reform which would create a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in the country already.
In an interview with The Hill earlier this month, King said that opposition to amnesty was “growing.”