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Arizona lawmaker will not resign, despite racist and xenophobic comments
He said immigrant children were a “burden” and there is a “white flight” going on in the country
Republican Arizona State Representative David Stringer stepped down from the chairmanship of a legislative committee on Friday following the emergence of audio of him saying African-Americans don’t “blend in” and there is a “white flight” going on in the country. He continues to represent the city of Prescott in the Arizona Legislature.
In audio recordings published by the Phoenix New Times, Rep. Stringer is heard talking about how non-native English speaking students are a “burden” to society, claiming that there is a “white flight” in the country, and insinuating that second- and third-generation Polish Americans are more acceptable because they assimilate unlike “Somali-Americans.”
Stringer gave in to the demand from the Arizona House Speaker-elect, Republican Rusty Bowers, to step down as chair of Arizona’s House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee on Friday afternoon. Stringer will be removed from the Sentencing Committee as a whole.
“Representative Stringer’s comments are vile and won’t be tolerated,” said Bowers. “His remarks don’t reflect the sentiments of the Arizona Legislature, the constituents we represent, and the policies we enact. Given the diversity of my own family, I take personal offense to these disgusting comments.”
The comments were made in a conversation that took place following a lecture Stringer attended at Arizona State University (ASU) on Nov. 19, Phoenix New Times reported.
“Diversity in our country is relatively new,” he said in what appears to be a private conversation between him and two students following the talk.
In response to one of the students asking why assimilation could be an issue if their Polish grandparents were able to do it, Rep. Stringer said, “They were all Europeans—second or third generation—everybody looks the same and everybody talks the same, but that’s not the case with African Americans and other racial groups because they don’t melt in, they don’t blend in. They always look different.”
“We have white flight in this country,” he went on to say.
He also made remarks on education for immigrant children. “It costs a lot more to educate a child who doesn’t speak English as a native language,” he said. “So that’s a burden on the taxpayers…and it’s a pretty significant burden.”
As of the beginning of 2017 legislative session, Stringer served on the education committee.
The lawmaker, who also claimed he spent his career working on “literally thousands of cases” for the African-American community, had previously come under fire in June for saying “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona and that immigration is an “existential threat” to the U.S.
His comments at the time led to calls from Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Republican chair Jonathan Lines for him to step down.
He was first elected to the chamber in 2016, and has sponsored a number of bills on health, youth empowerment, and environmental issues.
According to the Phoenix New Times, Stringer’s anti-immigration sentiments were known as far back as 2016, when he reportedly said,
“I think immigration is a huge problem, it is destroying our country, it is tearing us apart, it will inevitably – if we don’t do something about it— result in some kind of civil disorder and a dissolution of the United States as we know it.”
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque