Alaska Congressman Don Young (AP)
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska says he "meant no disrespect" by a term he used to describe migrant workers during a wide-ranging interview.
In a statement Thursday, Young said that during an interview this week with KRBD Radio in Ketchikan, he used a term that was commonly used during his days growing up on a farm in Central California. The congressman says, in his words, "I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect."
Young used the term "wetbacks" to describe the workers who picked tomatoes on his father's ranch.
The congressman says he has "compassion and understanding" for migrant workers and "the hurdles they face in obtaining citizenship." He says they play an important role in America's workforce and the country must tackle the issue of immigration reform.