Rep. Don Young, who used the term “wetbacks” to describe Mexican immigrants in a radio interview Thursday night, issued a full-scale apology this afternoon for using the derogatory slur after a barrage of criticism from Republicans and Democrats.
“I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska,” Young, R-Alaska, wrote in his second statement of the past 24 hours. “There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words.”
An earlier statement from Young excused his use of the smear as “a term that was commonly used” during his days growing up on his father’s ranch in central California, but the 21-term congressman’s second statement leaves no ambiguity about his remorse.
“That word [wetbacks], and the negative attitudes that come with it, should be left in the 20th century, and I’m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform,” he stated.
Numerous lawmakers decried Young’s short-lived defense earlier today, including House Speaker John Boehner, who said the remarks “were offensive and beneath the dignity” of the House. Boehner had called on Young to issue “an immediate apology.”
Mike Anderson, Young’s press secretary, said that the congressman is traveling in Alaska today and is not available for further comment.