Alaskan Rep. Don Young sent out a quick apology Thursday for referring to Latinos who worked his family farm as “wetbacks” on a radio show.
The Republican lawmaker said he wasn’t aware the term was derogatory.
“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,” he said, as reported by the Alaska Dispatch. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays, and I meant no disrespect.”
Mr. Young’s exact statement, made to KRDB-FM Radio in Alaska during discussion of immigration reform: “My father had a ranch. We used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
He was trying to make the point that technological developments had dramatically reduced the number of positions for laborers in the country.