MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Representatives of Memphis Hispanic groups and their supporters decried comments by a Republican lawmaker who likened illegal immigrant births to rats multiplying.

The Commercial Appeal reported the groups stood outside the home of Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville on Thursday.

Todd made the comments earlier this week while he was questioning state officials at a committee hearing about whether the state-funded Cover Kids program checked citizenship before paying for health care. He was told that the federal government didn’t allow it for prenatal care because any child born in the U.S. is a citizen.

Todd said that means the immigrants can “go out there like rats and multiply.”

When contacted by The Associated Press, Todd said he was wrong to use that choice of words. He said using the term “anchor babies” probably would have been more palatable.

The term, considered derogatory by some, is a reference to children born to at least one illegal immigrant parent.

Todd told WHBQ-TV in a phone interview Thursday that he doesn’t plan to apologize.

“I’m not apologizing to anyone who may have been offended. I used the wrong terminology,” he said.

During the protest, about 10 people, including representatives of the NAACP and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, stood in Todd’s driveway.

Mauricio Calvo, head of the advocacy group Latino Memphis, said he expects “uneducated people” to make such comments.

“What’s scary is when our leaders make those comments,” Calvo said.

Pictured:  Rep. Curry Todd