House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sharply rebuked Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) for using the word “wetback” in a radio interview.
“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in an interview with a Ketchikan radio station aired Thursday. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
Young issued a statement to local media after furor over the comment spread.
“During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” Young said. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”
Boehner, who has tangled with Young before over the congressman’s ethics problems and probes, didn’t take that walkback as the necessary apology.
“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” Boehner said in a statement. “I don’t care why he said it – there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Young’s comments “emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party.”
“As I have continued to say, everyone in this country deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Priebus said. “Our party represents freedom and opportunity for every American and a beacon of hope to those seeking liberty throughout the world.”
The Group of Eight is due to unveil its bipartisan immigration reform framework soon as the GOP has pegged an initial $10 million investment toward minority outreach.
“Migrant workers come to America looking for opportunity and a way to provide a better life for their families,” Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a statement. “They do not come to this country to hear ethnic slurs and derogatory language from elected officials. The comments used by Rep. Young do nothing to elevate our party, political discourse or the millions who come here looking for economic opportunity.”