Immigrants from Latin America are from a "violent civilization," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) complained at a sparsely-attended anti-immigration reform rally Monday in Richmond, Va. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, called on Republican leaders to repudiate King's remarks.
"If you bring people from a violent civilization into a less-violent civilization, you're going to have more violence right? It's like pouring hot water into cold water, does it raise the temperature or not?" King said in reference to Latin American immigrants, according to Politico.
The rally was one of a number of rallies, called the "Stop Amnesty" tour, planned for August and sponsored by Numbers USA.
King has already been sharply criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for implying that most young immigrants came into the country as drug mules.
Those in support of the rally were overheard complaining that few people, 40-60, showed up. According to America's Voice, a pro-immigration reform advocacy group, only about 30 to 40 people showed up at the rally. Politico reported that 60 people were there. Matthew Boyle, a reporter for Breitbart News, complained on his Twitter feed about the sparse showing and said he counted "maybe 30" attendees.
"If grassroots wants to kill #Amnesty they have to show up. #teaparty they are not here in Richmond," he tweeted.
The rally was held in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's district to send him a message that he should oppose current immigration reform efforts, though the low turnout may have the opposite effect. Cantor has indicated that he favors passage of an immigration reform bill.
Some Republicans have recently argued that their party needs to improve its outreach to Hispanics. Part of that outreach, they say, should include eliminating anti-immigrant rhetoric from within their own ranks. King's remarks will likely further infuriate these party members.
On Sunday, King appeared on a panel discussion with GOP strategist Ana Navarro on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I think [King is] a mediocre congressman with no legislative record and the only time he makes national press is when he comes out and says something offensive about the undocumented or Hispanics," Navarro declared.
In an email to The Christian Post, Rodriguez, who also serves as a senior editorial advisor for The Christian Post, sharply denounced King's "reprehensible" remarks as "anti-Christian and anti-American," and called on Republican leaders to "repudiate and rebuke" him.
"Enough is enough," Rodriguez said. "As Christ-followers we understand that today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity. We cannot permit the pathetic noise of nativism and xenophobia to silence the sound of conviction and compassion."
Rodriguez added that King's remarks "reveal a misguided characterization" of Latinos "that gives fodder to divisive and hateful rhetoric."