Republican Congressman Steve King says he is “standing firm” in his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants, including children who were illegally brought into the country by their parents.

House Speaker John Boehner — the top Republican in the House — used his weekly news conference to blast King for saying there are more drug smugglers than high school valedictorians among the kids brought into the U.S. illegally. Boehner called King’s comment “ignorant.”

King responded during an appearance on KFAB Radio late this afternoon.

“Republican leadership should understand if they don’t want this amplified, then don’t amplify it,” King said.

King blames “full-time, professional hyperventilators” for stirring up the controversy and King said many of his colleagues are giving him “silent” support.

“When you couch the language in such a way that you’re careful not to offend anybody, then nobody’s paying attention either,” King said. “And I intended to offend the drug smugglers and it doesn’t bother my conscience one bit if it is does offend them, but I have no idea why anyone else would be offended.”

A group of undocumented youth who say they were brought into the country by their parents when they were children tried to deliver cantaloupes to King’s congressional office in Washington, D.C. earlier today. One woman in the group called King’s comment “spiteful” and “racist.”

King last week said for every valedictorian who would be eligible for legal status under the so-called DREAM Act, there are a hundred others who have “calves the size of cantaloupes” because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana on their back across the U.S./Mexican border. King said he’s seen the drug runners with his own eyes as he’s visited the border and met with border patrol agents.

“There’s no denying the fact of what I said,” King said on KFAB, “and so they attack the messenger because the facts undermine their DREAMer/amnesty agenda.”

King suggested Boehner’s public rebuke is a “strong indication” the Republican House speaker favors some form of immigration reform. Democrats are calling on Boehner to pull King off the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will first consider any proposed changes in immigration policy.

King sent out an email to supporters this afternoon, asking for contributions and accusing critics of twisting his words. Read it here.