While his party is amidst an outreach campaign towards minorities, Don Young, an Alaskan Republican in Congress was interview by a local radio station on Thursday. In his interview, Young referred to Hispanic farm workers as being “wetbacks.”
When Young was asked about bringing back jobs to America, he recalled all the workers his father had on his farm where he grew up in California.
Young said his father owned a ranch and they used between 50 and 60 “wetbacks” to help pick the tomatoes. He said that today it takes only two people to harvest the same amount of tomatoes as it is all done by using a machine.
Late Thursday night, Young released an apology for his earlier remarks. In the apology, he said that during his interview with a Public Radio station he used a term that was commonly used in his days growing up in Central California on a farm. He continued by saying he knows the word is not used today as it was when he was a kid and he did not mean any disrespect.
He continued by saying that migrant workers in the U.S. play important roles in today’s workforce. Earlier in his interview, he had said that he discussed both the understanding and compassion he had for migrant workers and all the problems they face in trying to obtain legal status and eventually citizenship in the country.
Young is the second most senior GOP member in the House and has represented the only congressional district in Alaska for more than 40 years. In 2012, he recorded 63% of the vote in his re-election.