South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford (D) is standing by comments he made claiming that Black and White Americans have a poorer work ethic than their Spanish-speaking counterparts.

The comments came during a debate about an Arizona-style immigration law during a meeting of the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8.

Ford, who represents the Charleston area, reportedly said, “We need these workers here. A lot of people aren’t going to do certain type of work in this country…The brothers are going to find ways to take a break. Ever since this country was built, we’ve had somebody do the work for us.”

Ford then recalled an instance when illegal Hispanic workers groomed his yard quickly for a fraction of the pay.

Joel Sawyer, executive director of the state’s GOP, called for Ford to apologize. “It’s abhorrent and incredibly offensive that any elected official would make comments this racist,” Sawyer said, according to the Associated Press.

Although Ford’s office has not issued an official press release, Ford has clarified his statement in several local news venues. According to Charleston NBC affiliate WCBD, Ford said he was explaining the history of the United States and “who has done the hard, dirty jobs that no one else wanted.

He went on to say his comments were not “a racial thing.”

According to the AP, Lonnie Randolph, leader of the state NAACP, called Ford’s wording unfortunate, but said, “All human beings that I know of share both positive and negative traits…All individuals share the same shortcomings.”