Prescott Lawmaker Says Non-Assimilating Immigrants An 'Existential Threat To U.S.'
A first-term Prescott lawmaker is on defense after posting a racially charged speech on social media websites. State Rep. David Stringer says the message was taken out of context.
Rep. David Stringer says the underlying point of his speech at the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum Monday night was that too much diversity too fast, undermines social cohesion and community.
He scripted and posted it live on the internet, but then pulled it down after sharp criticism rolled in from both sides of the political aisle.
Speaking to an audience of mostly white men, he said, “Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this, I’m very concerned about this."
"This immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States.”
His Democratic opponent, David Schapira, posted about a minute of the full 17-minute speech online, including a portion where he used Arizona’s integration program within public schools as an example of a failed immigration policy.
“Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona, today, are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around," said Stringer. “It’s going to change the demographic voting pace of this state, and that’s what’s going on around the country.”
On Wednesday, Stringer doubled down with Capitol Media Services and said he was taken out of context and stands by his statements.
"You can't simply have amnesty after amnesty and not control your borders and continue to remain a viable, unified country. That's what I think," he said.
When asked if he thought the same applied for earlier Italian and Irish immigrants, he tried to differentiate between European and Mexican immigrants.
“America has been a melting pot. It's been a melting pot for people of European descent. OK? So if you're from a Swede or a Norwegian and an Irishman and a Frenchman, after a second or third generation, your kids are all alike," he said. "They don't have any accent. They're indistinguishable. OK? That has not been true, that has not been the experience of other racial groups."
He lamented Americans with African or Asian heritage have not fully assimilated and blamed Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. border for slowing assimilation among Latinos.
"They go back and forth," Stringer said. "They have their connections with their family, their connections with their culture, their language, their connections with their country are stronger than when you came over from Russia or you came over from the Ukraine or you came over from Italy or wherever, you were crossing a sea and you didn't have these lines of connections.''
The Democratic advocacy group ProgressNow Arizona has called his statements racist, paranoid, and dangerous.
Stringer says he plans to re-post the full 17 minutes of his speech online for the public to hear it in full context.
Republican leaders have distanced themselves, assuring Stringer’s comments do not in any way reflect the beliefs or values of the Arizona Republican Party.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.