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Congressman Finally Apologizes For Calling Latinos “Wetbacks,” As GOP Continues To Offend

Submitted by on March 30, 2013 – 10:29 am2 Comments

After commenting once on the incident, Rep. Don Young of Alaska finally apologized for using the term “wetbacks” to describe Latino farm workers this week. The gaffe is just the latest embarrassment for Republicans as they attempt to reach out to Hispanics in the wake of their loss last November.

The twenty-one term (yes, since the 1970′s) congressman was describing how technology has reduced the demand for labor when he used the term:

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

In a statement later released by his office, Young seemed to blame the use of the slur on a generational divide, and stopped short of apologizing:

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

Young went on to say that he was expressing “compassion and understanding” for the workers, and did not want to distract from immigration reform.

A day later, Young’s office issued another statement, formally apologizing for the use of the “insensitive term,” and once again stressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

ThinkProgress cleverly highlighted this story and two others illustrating the GOP’s persistent minority problem with a banner headline reading “So, Republican Party/How’s That Latino Outreach/Workin’ Out For Ya?”

Elsewhere in the House, perennial nativist Rep. Steve King (IA) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK) introduced legislation that would mandate all “official functions of the United States” to be conducted in English. Such measures are often introduced and have always failed. As the article points out, not only would such a measure discriminate against minority communities, but immigrants today are in reality learning English even faster than immigrants from a century ago.

And in North Carolina, newly elected Gov. Pat McCrory unexpectedly eliminated the state’s Office of Latino Affairs.

So things are off to a great start for 2016.

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