An Arizona legislator said he believes immigration “represents an existential threat” to the United States and specifically expressed concern about the high percentage of minorities growing up in the state.
Arizona State Representative David Stringer, a first-term Republican from Yavapai County, made the remarks while speaking to a group of voters at what appears to be a public forum. It’s unclear when the forum took place.
12 News has reached out to Stringer’s office for comment. A representative of Stringer's legislative office said he declined an interview and would post a written statement about the video on his Facebook Page. Several hours later on Wednesday evening, there was not yet a statement available.
A video of Stringer’s remarks began circulating on social media Tuesday.
In the speech, Stringer states:
“60% 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. But when you look at that 60% number for our public school students, just carry that forward ten years, fifteen years. It’s going to change the demographic voting base of this state and that’s what going on around the country. Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this. I am very concerned about this. Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States. If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country. It will not be the country we were born in.”
Stringer’s legislative District 1 includes Prescott, other parts of Yavapai County and a northern strip of Maricopa County.
A report by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting confirms Stringer's description of the percentage of White students enrolled in school. The demographics report said the most recent statewide data showed 40% of school-age children are white.
The video clip was posted on social media by a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, David Schapira on Tuesday. Schapira said he first watched the video Tuesday on Stringer’s Facebook account and recorded a copy for himself.
“My family has been here four generations. When an Arizona politician says something like that, it’s disturbing to me,” Schapira said. “I think when people represent these types of views they should not be representing the state I call home.”
In the moments leading up to the comments about race, Stringer said he wanted to end his speech by discussing his “top political issue,” immigration. He said immigration in recent decades has been “politically destabilizing” for the U.S. He never mentions illegal immigration, just immigration.
“A number of states have flipped or are imminently going to flip to become majority-minority states. And those include Texas, Florida and Arizona,” Stringer said.
The “Facebook Live” video has since been removed from Stringer’s Facebook page. However, a second “Facebook Live” video on Stringer’s Facebook page dated June 11 appears to be from the same event. It shows a question and answer session with the audience.
Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Arizona Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League the legislator's comments are disheartening for a representative of state government.
"We found it to be shockingly inappropriate. There is no place in our state government for this type of messaging, especially given we are a nation of immigrants," Galindo said. "Representative Stringer totally disregarded the contributions immigrants make to and for our country."
Schapira, who is an educator and Tempe City Councilmember, says he doesn’t expect a follow-up response or apology from Stringer.
“I think I understand the argument he’s making. He’s afraid of a more diverse America lessening the influence of his political ideology,” Schapira said. “I’m not expecting anything except for voters of his district to be aware of his views.”
During other parts of the speech, Stringer talks about being elected to the legislature for the first time in 2016, his background as an attorney, and his conservative resume.
He said he wants to be re-elected to follow-through on his top two priorities of strengthening 2nd amendment protections and reforming the criminal justice system to reduce certain drug offenses from a felony to a misdemeanor.
“I want to finish when I started and I believe what I’m doing is important,” Stringer said.
The Arizona GOP released a statement Thursday calling for Stringer's resignation.
"In light of today’s reports detailing Representative David Stringer’s comments, I am calling on him to resign immediately," Chairman Jonathan Lines said. "These words have no place in our party, or in our state."