(CNN) - After heated backlash, U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has apologized for using a derogatory word to describe immigrant workers.
"I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska," the Republican lawmaker wrote in a statement Friday afternoon. "There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words. That word, 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."
Young, Alaska's sole congressman, originally made the offensive comment during a sit-down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio earlier this week. Talking about how technology is affecting the economy, he referenced an anecdote from previously working on a farm in California.
"My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," Young said. "It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."
Initially, Young said he had "used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California," adding that he "meant no disrespect."
That wasn't enough for some Republicans, who loudly called for Young to formally apologize.
In perhaps one of the most forceful reactions, House Speaker John Boehner called for an "immediate apology" from the congressman, who's now serving his 21st term.
"Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds. I don't care why he said it – there's no excuse," Boehner said.
Sen. John McCain, one of the leading GOP voices on immigration reform, said on Twitter that Young's comments "were offensive and have no place in our Party or in our nation's discourse."
"He should apologize immediately," he added.
CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
READ MORE: Republicans chide Young for his 'wetbacks' comment
READ MORE: Alaska Rep. Don Young walks back 'wetbacks'
Resignation is the only apology acceptable.
This is the Republican party, America.
and I'm sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform."
Such a good little soldier.
Disgusting, please vote it out of our government.
They got tomatoes, in alaska and wetbacks to pick them?
This comment belongs under a different thread but comments were closed before I got to it.....I am part Cherokee and though I thought Congressman Brailey's comment was a little ignorant (the 'lack of knowledge' meaning) I give him the benefit of the doubt on it. I think political correctness will be a goodly portion of the ruination of this country. As for myself, I am not very politically correct. I call a shovel a shovel.
The Republican Party is finally taking baby steps to change its image. Eight years ago a Republican politician would never have apologized for saying something politically incorrect. Now if only Sen Cruz, Palin, Trump, or Bachmann would issue such an apology.
Funny how the bigoted rants of Democrat Joe Mitchell didn't make the national news. The liberal media is so lopsided that it's now a comedy act.
Can we vote out Harry Reid for his racial comments. Democrats are the last to point any fingers. How many time did u guys re-elect Robert Byrd the Grand wizard of the KKK? Seems ok for him to orchestrate, lynching, and use ethic slur b/c as long as their is a D next to his name the sheeple line up to vote for him. Contrast that with Republicans who get rid of theirs and call them out on it. For every Republican that made a racial slur u can find twice as much Dems who do the same.
How about Uncle Tom remember that?
A republican makes an insensitive remark that offends millions of people. What else is new?
ha ha, what a rednekcer
How is this any more offensive than SHOVING gay marriage down our throats? 1st Amendment allows free speech....NO amendment allows for DEVIANTS TO GET MARRIED!!!!!
Not a racial or ethnic slur, it's a synonym for "illegal alien"; refers to illegals crossing the Rio Grande. Might be impolite, but not a racial slur.
We need to get the criminal's (illegal's) out of this country they are destroying America he should never say sorry! These people have no rights and it would be nice to see them call them what they are! All Americans want to see is mass deportations and the rounding up these criminal's! Why has the federal government committed treason by allowing this invasion and then do nothing to stop it????? Police can kick in your door search your house but refuse to arrest one criminal (illegal) or even detain them when they are standing right next to them ! Talk about pandering to illegals and arresting innocent citizens and detaining people, illegal searches and nothing done about the criminal's (illegal's) Pathetic !
The mouth only utters what lies deep in the heart... and as they say, "you can take the boy out of the country, but cant take the country out of the boy"...
Typical republican hypocrite.
Given the GOP's visceral hatred for Obama, you should have allready figured out that being a racist is part of being a Republican these days.
Omg stop crying about nothing grow some b..ls and fix the country i swam in my pool today my back was wet so what
Heh, just brings to light what has always been there. Father owned a Ranch, yeah and probably a bunch of whips on that plantation er RANCH...
Certain people have always been racist, it's in their roots...
BTW... it says he's on his 21st term... Why not limit the terms, just like the president's?
I don't think wet-back is a derogatory term. It is a compliment on a race of people that work so hard their backs get wet with sweat.
"There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words.
No malice in your heart and no brains in your head apparently. LOL Good luck GOP trying to trick the Hispanic population in the U.S. to vote for you. Until you purge the dipwads from your ranks, expect to continue to lose elections.
The actions, conduct of illegals in the united states hurts the US Citizen irregardless or race far more than any word ever can.
Compliance First! Reform Second!
@Illeagle-j1 – I guess you didn't read the story.
My lawn looks fantastic! Thank you wetbacks!