Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill MORE (R-Texas) sharply criticized GOP Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump | Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Overnight Energy: Biden admin backs Trump approval of major Alaska drilling project | Senate Republicans pitch 8 billion for infrastructure | EPA to revise Trump rule limiting state authority to block pipelines MORE, calling his “wetback” comment an “ethnic slur” that hurts the GOP.
“Migrant workers come to America looking for opportunity and a way to provide a better life for their families,” Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said in a statement on Friday.
Young, an Alaska Republican serving his 21st term, used the derogatory term in an interview with Alaska's KRDB-FM radio on Thursday. In describing the debate over immigration reform, he said “my father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes.”
Young apologized for the remark later on Thursday.
In his apology, Young said the term had been used more casually when he was growing up.
“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,” Young said. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”
Democrats quickly pounced on the comments.
“Shame on Rep. Don Young,” Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement. “It is deeply disheartening that in 2013 we are forced to have a discussion about a member of Congress using such hateful words and racial slurs.”
Hinojosa urged other top Republicans like House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Ohio) to condemn the comments.
“As the Republican minority outreach efforts develop, I’d advise their strategists to list 'don’t say racial slurs like "wetback" ' as a bedrock for their messaging,” Hinojosa continued. “Our country needs reform that can only be achieved with a bipartisan effort. I am urging Republican leaders, including Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE, to condemn this behavior and ask members in their party to act responsibly.”