A Republican state lawmaker in Arizona was recorded saying African-Americans “don’t blend in” and “always look different” and calling non-native English speaking students a “burden on taxpayers,” the Phoenix New Times reported Friday.
The newspaper reports that Arizona state Rep. David Stringer made the racist comments earlier this month after an Arizona State University lecture on the results of this month’s midterm elections.
Stringer, who has made controversial comments about immigration and diversity in the past, is heard on the audio recording saying “diversity in our country is relatively new,” in an exchange with three students.
ASU sophomore Stephen Chmura responded to the lawmaker by citing immigration from Ireland and Italy.
“They were all European,” Stringer said. “So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. 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.”
“Why does looking different matter?” Chmura asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it doesn’t to a lot of people,” Stringer said. “It seems to matter to a lot of people who move out of Detroit, who move out of Baltimore. You know we have white flight in this country.”
Chmura noted that his Polish great-grandfather wanted a better life for himself, just like Venezuelans who are currently fleeing from a “socialist regime.”
“The difference between the Polish-American immigrant and the immigrant from Somalia is the second-generation Polish immigrant looks like the Irish kid and the German kid and every other kid,” Stringer said. “But the immigrant from Somalia does not.”
Stringer repeatedly referred to immigrants and non-native English speakers as a “burden” throughout the conversation.
“It costs a lot of more to educate a child who doesn’t speak English as a native language,” Stringer said. “So that’s a burden on the taxpayers. It’s a pretty significant burden.”
Stringer has previously claimed that “immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States.”
Earlier this year, Stringer lamented about how there “aren’t enough white kids to go around” because 60 percent of children in Arizona schools were minorities.
The comment prompted the Arizona Republican Party to call for his resignation, but he refused. He went on to win his reelection in Prescott earlier this month.
Stringer later apologized to “anyone he offended.”
“I maybe touched a third rail of politics but what I said is accurate,” Stringer said in June. “Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth. Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.”
Arizona state Rep. César Chávez (D), an immigrant himself, condemned Stringer on Twitter Friday.
“The Arizona Legislature has no room for individuals such as David Stringer,” he wrote. “Arizona is enriched by it’s diversity and cultures. We must look to move forward from this divisiveness, and I believe in order to do so he must resign or the #AZLeg should take actions for expulsion.”
The Arizona Legislature has no room for individuals such as David Stringer. Arizona is enriched by it’s diversity and cultures. We must look to move forward from this divisiveness, and I believe in order to do so he must resign or the #AZLeg should take actions for expulsion. https://t.co/Lzaqy1UNom
— César Chávez (@CesarChavezAZ) November 30, 2018
Rusty Bowers (R), Arizona’s State House Speaker-elect, denounced Stringer’s comments in a statement released Friday.
“Representative Stringer’s comments are vile and won’t be tolerated,” Bowers wrote. “His remarks don’t reflect the sentiments of the Arizona Legislature, the constituents we represent, and the policies we enact.”
Bowers said that Stringer’s remarks made him “incapable of performing his duties” as chairman of the Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee.
“I gave Representative Stringer a critical assignment as chair of the Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee. These comments render him incapable of performing his duties as chair. I asked Representative Stringer to resign as chair of the committee, and he has agreed to do so.”