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Congressman Compares Undocumented Immigrants to Water on Sinking Ship

Bill Clark/Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- Republican leaders have repeatedly warned party members against harsh immigration rhetoric following a dismal showing with Latino voters in November, but the message doesn't seem to have resonated with some in the GOP.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., for example, just compared undocumented immigrants to extra water on a sinking ship.

"Why are we even talking about a pathway to citizenship when our borders aren't even close to being secure?" Barletta told the New York Times during a discussion on possible outcomes of the immigration reform debate currently taking place in Washington.

"Let's not take on any more water on this sinking ship," he said. "Let's patch the holes. Then we'll decide what do we do with all this water that's here."

The remarks come just several days after Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, used the derogatory term "wetbacks" to refer to Latino farmworkers while he was discussing his father's ranch. He released an apology statement, but only after pressure from top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Barletta said he would oppose any plan that allows undocumented immigrants a chance to work legally. While a number of studies have said offering immigrants a path to citizenship would contribute to the economy's growth, some Republicans have expressed concerns that immigrants will take jobs from American workers.

This is not the first time Barletta has laid out such positions. He championed a law in Hazelton, Pa., in 2006 that penalized employers for hiring undocumented immigrants.

A bipartisan group of eight senators has been working on a comprehensive immigration plan that includes a path to citizenship. They are expected to unveil that plan this month. Some details have already been revealed, such as a new visa for lesser-skilled immigrant workers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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