House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Friday condemned a reference to migrant workers made by fellow Republican Representative Don Young, calling the comments "offensive and beneath the dignity of the office."
Young referred to migrant workers as "wetbacks" in a radio interview aired in his home state of Alaska on Thursday, but issued an apology late in the day after criticism. The term is considered a slur against illegal immigrants who crossed into the United States from Mexico.
"My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50-60 wetbacks ... to pick tomatoes ... it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It is all done by machine," Young said in the interview.
The lawmaker was speaking about the economy and technology. He later said he did not realize the term was considered offensive.
"I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California," Young said in a statement. "I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect."
Boehner issued a statement on Friday saying there was "no excuse," for the comments.
"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," Boehner said in a statement issued on Friday.