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Tennessee lawmaker calls some illegal immigrants 'rats'

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Lawmaker later apologizes for his wording but says he stands by the point he was making
  • Some immigrant groups are angered by the statement
  • Lawmaker makes the statement at a meeting this week

(CNN) -- A Tennessee lawmaker is under fire after referring to pregnant illegal immigrants as "rats" that "multiply."

Tennessee State Rep. Curry Todd made the statement this week during a fiscal review committee meeting when lawmakers were questioning state officials about money expenditures.

Todd asked a panel of prenatal health care officials if patients have to show proof of citizenship before getting state-funded help.

The official replied that unborn children automatically become American citizens after birth.

"There's a technical guidance letter that states that, for covering the unborn child, we are not permitted to determine citizenship because the child, once born, is a U.S. citizen," an official told him.

Todd then remarked: "They can go out there like rats and multiply, then."

Some groups in Tennessee have said they were offended by the statement, CNN affiliate WSMV reported.

"It shows that as an elected official he does not care about the immigrant community. He doesn't value them as human beings,"

Kasar Abdulla, who is part of a Tennessee immigrants rights group, told the affiliate.

Todd later told the affiliate that he may have made a poor choice of words but he stood by the point he was trying to make.

"I am not going to try and be politically correct with everything I say," Todd said. "If I offended them I am sorry. But the truth is the truth. A spade is a spade."