WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alaskan Rep. Don Young, one of the most senior Republicans in the House, has apologized for using the racial slur "wetbacks" in referring to Hispanic migrant workers.
Young, now in his 21st term in the House, said in an interview with Alaska's KRBD radio that when he was young, his father "used 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes" on their California farm.
In a statement issued late Thursday and reported by several news organizations, Young said the derogatory term was used commonly when he was growing up and that he "meant no disrespect." He said he had discussed in the interview the compassion he had for these workers.
The Republican Party is seeking to temper its hard-line positions on those in the country without documents to improve its standing among Hispanic voters.