WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A freshman Republican congressman from California said Tuesday he regretted losing his cool when he told an anti-immigration protester, “If you touch me again, I’ll drop your ass” after the protester appeared to grip his hand roughly and slap his shoulder.

A video of Rep. Steve Knight was posted on YouTube by a group calling itself We the People Rising, which says it promotes hiring of Americans and wants U.S. officials to follow immigration laws.

In a statement, Knight said the group has repeatedly tried to goad him in their encounters “to a level that is not constructive. Over this past weekend, I lost my cool and I regret responding the way I did.”

The video was recorded in Knight’s district as he met with a group of protesters angry that he had voted for legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security without undoing President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

It shows Knight getting into a confrontation with the group, including people waving American flags and holding signs reading “Stop Illegal Immigration.”

Someone identifying himself as “Mike” approaches the congressman and, while gripping his hand, says: “You told me you didn’t vote for amnesty and you did. You lied to me. I looked it up on the Internet.” That prompts Knight’s angry outburst.

“Don’t touch me,” Knight responded.

The congressman then launches into an occasionally garbled explanation of his votes, as the small but agitated crowd repeatedly interrupts. “I never voted for amnesty,” Knight insists, saying he had also voted for an earlier House bill that would have undone Obama’s immigration moves, but it couldn’t get through the Senate.

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