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Boehner: U.S. Representative use of ‘wetback’ term ‘offensive’


This news story was published on March 30, 2013.
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 29 (UPI) — Republican leaders denounced the use of the term “wetback” by U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, with House Speaker John Boehner calling it “offensive.”

Young, in an interview that aired Thursday, referred to Latino workers on his family farm as “wetbacks.” He issued a statement within hours of the release of the interview, saying he “meant no disrespect” but stopping short of apologizing for the usage.

“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 in a statement posted on his official website. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

During the radio interview on immigration reform, Young said he feared the United States had shipped off too many agricultural industry jobs, and noted automation and technological advances have reduced the number of labor positions available.

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

Boehner said in a statement on his website: “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 and it warrants an immediate apology.”

“Migrant workers come to America looking for opportunity and a way to provide a better life for their families,” Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate minority whip, said in a statement.

“They do not come to this country to hear ethnic slurs and derogatory language from elected officials,” he said.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted: “Don Young’s comments were offensive and have no place in our Party or in our nation’s discourse. He should apologize immediately.”

“The words used by Representative Young emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Offensive language and ethnic slurs have no place in our public discourse.”

In his apology, Young said he believes Congress should “once and for all tackle the issue of immigration reform,” The Hill reported.

“Migrant workers play an important role in America’s workforce, and earlier in the said interview, I discussed the compassion and understanding I have for these workers and the hurdles they face in obtaining citizenship.”

The incident came less than two weeks after Priebus announced a $10 million outreach initiative to improve the party’s standing among voters, particular minorities.

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, issued a statement calling on Republicans to condemn Young’s use of the term.

“Shame on Rep. Don Young,” the statement said. “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 said Young “has served alongside Hispanics in Congress since 1973, so he should know terms like ‘wetback’ have never been acceptable.”

Young, 79, has been Alaska’s lone House representative since 1973. He faces an ethics investigation on charges he improperly accepted gifts.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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23 Responses to Boehner: U.S. Representative use of ‘wetback’ term ‘offensive’

  1. Reggie Reply Report comment

    March 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

    LVS this is not the first time you have made a veiled threat when someone doesn’t agree with you
    or somehow “insults” you.LVS said “If you ever try to insult my family again I will make it my life work to find you.” This should not be acceptable on any site including this one.
    I can’t believe Matt hasn’t stepped in and told LVS to stop the threats. LVS ,I thought you were better than this.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      March 31, 2013 at 11:18 am

      @Reggie-why do you consider it a threat. Are you nervous about something. I made no threat. I just said I would find her. Now the other side of that is they think they can insult people’s family’s and say anything they want with impunity, and that is just not so. They hide behind a keyboard and come up with all their snide comments and there ‘COULD” be a penalty for that. Now, why do you ask or make such a statement? I have been being very civil with you as agreed and now you come out with something like this. Is this the old caustic Reggie coming out again. If so, I can certainly change my approach.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        March 31, 2013 at 11:49 am

        LVS , it is absolutely a threat.” I will make it my life work to find you.” So you will find them and do what:1)shake their hand
        2)Give them money
        3)Pat them on the back
        4)or do something unpleasant
        My guess is # 4. Just admit your emotions got the best of you and you just have to agree to disagree.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        March 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        “Now the other side of that is they think they can insult people’s family’s and say anything they want with impunity, and that is just not so. They hide behind a keyboard and come up with all their snide comments and there ‘COULD” be a penalty for that.”

        LVS I am NOT trying to start a fight but reread what you wrote.Don’t you think some posters might see you in this statement. Step back and think about this, please.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          March 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm

          @Regie-I am not trying to start a fight either, but I did not go after their family like she did mine. Big difference in my opinion.

    • sickastupd Reply Report comment

      March 31, 2013 at 11:30 am

      It’s absolutely a threat, Reggie. And it’s in writing. How great is that!

      That’s why I dared this puke to get busy and come and get me.

      I can and will say anything I want under the guidelines of this blog and will continue to do so.

      He seems to think it’s acceptable for him to call people names and use all kinds of offensive slurs, but nobody else can. Actually, I’m still trying to figure out what insult I allegedly used on his “family”.

      Another one of LVS/msgordy/Uncle Buck’s imaginary insults I guess.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        March 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm

        @sick and stupid=-big difference between a threat and a promise.

  2. al duitman Reply Report comment

    March 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    How stupid…even the Mexican “legals” tend to call the illegals “westbacks”. In the case of those who crossed in the El Paso area and south of there until the Rio Grande reaches the Pecos, the times when you have to “swim” and get your “back” wet are few and far between.

    Those who cross illegally, perhaps, do not deserve to be called a wetback, but only because they don’t get that wet!!!

    Cross the southern Mexico border illegally and get caught…they jail ya and throw away the key!

    We need to do something about the illegals and its too late to resurrect the old “bracero” program. Give them a green card, I suppose, is the first step provided they have done no wrong, but as far as making them an U.S. citizen…that’s just crazy when you consider the ones who wait forever to get here.

    The next step would be to curtail the law that makes a person born here an automatic citizen. The border towns, for years, have “hosted” pregnant women who cross illegally have their baby in a U. S. hospital and that child, eventually, is able to bring the rest of his clan over.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      March 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      @Al-that is not entirely correct. I have swam in the Rio many times in Big Bend Park. Have you ever been there. I also vacationed many times in Del Rio and went out on a house boat for a week, have you? I have seen the river at Lorado and went into Mexico there, have you? I have crossed the river at Brownsville, have you. You are correct about the river in parts of California depending on the season and of course Arizona is pretty dry too.

  3. LVS Reply Report comment

    March 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

    @happy guy-he is a politician who will say anything to get re-electd. That doesn’t make it true or right. Just because it is now P.C. means nothing.

    • happyguy Reply Report comment

      March 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      LVS you think because you believe its not a racial slur its not. I along with every definition I could find says it is a racial slur or a bigoted word. Now who is right…you or the rest of the world. I was taught at an early age to treat people of different races with respect. To bad you did learn that lesson from your parents.

  4. sickastupd Reply Report comment

    March 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Well, well, well. It would appear that it IS a tasty slur! It DOESN’T mean any old person who happens to swim here from England or Australia. It’s a hateful term used to describe MEXICANS.

    How about that.

    • sickastupd Reply Report comment

      March 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

      nasty slur. But it might also be tasty. Either way, it’s a slur.

    • happyguy Reply Report comment

      March 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

      LVS…care to comment. I know you like to make up your own definitions but even your right wing hero’s find it offensive.

      • another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

        March 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

        The sound of crickets chirping…

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      March 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      @sicka-we have had this conversation before and I am not going over it again. I will just say you know nothing about Mexico or Mexicans except what you read into your liberal post. I am married to a Mexican, lived in Mexico, Texas and Southern California and I really don’t care what you liberals say or think because you just don’t know. I was fighting for equal rights and the K.K.K. her in Mason City long before you were born.

      • Uncle Buck Reply Report comment

        March 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Have lived in seven different states, fought the kkk in Indiana where I was born. Have a diverse family with, Japanese wife, Guatemalan nephew, puerto rican nephew, niece from the Philippines , African American that is a brother my family adopted in the60’s. my great grand mother was a Cherokee and we have rednecks from southern states. It’s just a word, go out and do something with people to help them, take one person at a time. So he(bohner)made a mistake,my family just laughs when this happens. What people have posted her is just as offensive to people. Is that not bigotry, thanks LVS for what to me seems what you have done to help stop racism around the USA or northern Iowa .

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          March 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

          @Uncle Buck my grandmother was Indian and my wife is part Indian. These liberals know nothing about what it was like being married back in the 60’s and what my family had to go through. Now they want to hang everything on one word. Wetback is NOT a slur against Mexicans. It is a slur against illegals. The term comes from them getting wet backs when the swam across the Rio Grande. Even the Mexicans call them wetbacks. I don’t care what the P.C. police think is right. They are wrong and know nothing.

      • sickastupd Reply Report comment

        March 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

        I could care less what you’re doing, LVS. The fact that you used this term is RACIST. Eating a burrito does not give you permission to be RACIST.

        You don’t have a CLUE what I know, where I’ve been or what I’ve done, so you cannot speak to that AT ALL.

        The use of this word is RACIST, and you can try and justify using it all day long, but it won’t change the FACT.

        Let me see if I can explain this so even you can understand…

        It doesn’t matter who you are. There are certain words that are offensive to some and are considered insults.

        Nobody is exempted. No amount of trips to Mexico makes it ok. No number of Mexican wives makes it ok. It is a RACIST term.

        You cannot say “Well, I listened to Motown records, so I can call black people the “N” word if I want to. Anybody who tries to tell me otherwise just doesn’t know who many records I listened to. But if it will make you feel better, I will only use this offensive word in describing certain black people.”

        And you can switch back to your LVS name permanently. I have known you are also Uncle Buck since “he” posted one particularly vulgar reply to me. It had your stench all over it.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          March 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm

          @sicka-You are so damn ignorant and stupid you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. If anyone is a racist it is you burrito eater. As far as Uncle Buck he is a very smart man but he is not me and never has been but he is certainly smart enough to see through the likes of a liberal, smart mouth like you. You post false information all of the time and expect other people to believe your lies. It is pretty bad when even Matt has to call you out on your lies and then you try to throw one of your hissy fits and deflect the truth. Everyone with a brain knows how you and your sister Brick for Brains are and can see right through your B.S. If you ever try to insult my family again I will make it my life work to find you.

        • sickastupd Reply Report comment

          March 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm

          Then I suggest you get started. Because I will NEVER stop telling it like it is. And I will NEVER stop calling a racist a racist.

          And YOU, Uncle LVS, are a RACIST.

  5. another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

    March 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

    LVS’s true hero…