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Top GOP Rep. Apologizes for Using Racial Slur 'Wetbacks


“I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays."



Rep. Don Young said he meant "no disrespect" when he used the racial slur "wetbacks" in a recent radio interview.

The Alaska congressman, one of the most senior Republicans in the House, told Alaska's KRBD radio that when he was young, his father had "50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes" on their California farm. "Wetbacks" is a slur commonly used to refer to illegal Hispanic immigrants.

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in the interview. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

In a statement late Thursday, Young said the term was "commonly used during [his] days growing up" but knows it's "not used in the same way nowadays." Nevertheless, his remark comes at a crucial time when the Republican Party has struggled to connect with Latino voters.

“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. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

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