PHOENIX -- A first-term Prescott lawmaker is warning that immigration "represents an existential threat to the United States'' and needs to be curtailed before the country is irrevocably altered.
Republican Rep. David Stringer said that new immigrants -- especially those from non-European countries -- do not assimilate as easily as those who came a century earlier.
And Stringer said the rapid influx of Hispanic children has made school integration impossible because "there aren't enough white kids to go around,'' not only because of the pure numbers of immigrants but because Anglo parents choose to either move to new areas or simply put their children in private or charter schools.
Stringer's comments Wednesday to Capitol Media Services came after nearly a minute of his 17-minute speech he made Monday to the Republican Men's Forum in Prescott were posted on social media.
Tempe City Councilman David Schapira, a Democrat running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, posted the excerpt on Twitter Tuesday evening, calling Stringer's remarks, "overtly racist comments about our students."
Stringer said the comments on immigration, at the end of his discussion of criminal justice reform, were "taken out of context and distorted by omission.''
But Stringer, first elected to the Legislature in 2016, acknowledged that his remarks were prepared and that his words were meant to be a warning of sorts to his audience which was largely, if not exclusively Anglo, that the country they know is changing.
"I'm telling them, 'You need to be prepared for this,' '' he said.
And Stringer told Capitol Media Services that he does believe that unless immigration is slowed -- and significantly -- there will be problems for the United States.
"Before we bring in a lot of new immigrants, we need to figure out how we assimilate the folks that are here,'' he said. "And maybe we have reached the point where we need a little breathing room now, we need a little time to assimilate.''
He said there are "political implications of massive demographic change and displacement.''
"Remember now: In the United States, people are moving all over the place,'' Stringer said.
"It's almost like 'white flight' that it constitutes an existential threat to the United States,'' he explained. "I think we could be facing national dissolution in a decade or two if we don't get control of the immigration issue.''
It starts, he said, with integration. Stringer said that requirement, which has its roots in the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
"The whole concept of integration is giving minority kids who are typically in worse neighborhoods, not as good a school, the same kind of advantages that white kids have,'' Stringer said. "So you integrate them with the white schools and you get a better, more fair result.''
But Stringer said that is becoming increasingly difficult in a state where he said the "minority'' population makes up 60 percent of public schools.
"There's not enough white kids to integrate all these schools because we've had so much immigration over a short period of time,'' he said, leading to "a dramatic demographic transformation.''
But the issue, Stringer said, is deeper than just education.
"You can't simply have amnesty after amnesty and not control your borders and continue to remain a viable, unified country,'' he said. "That's what I think.''
Stringer did not dispute that similar claims were made last century -- and even before -- amid waves of immigration from places like Ireland and Italy.
But Stringer said while "American has been a melting pot,'' what's happening now is different.
"It's been a melting pot for people of European descent,'' he said.
"So if you're a Swede, a Norwegian, an Irishman and a Frenchman, after the second or thrd generation, your kids are all alike,'' Stringer explained. "They don't have any accents. They're indistinguishable.''
That's not true of Hispanics, he said
"Talk to Asians,'' he said. "Even though they're affluent, they're an educated, cultured group, they still have a sense of maybe not fully participating in American life.''
And Stringer said even African-Americans who have been here for hundreds of years "still have not been fully assimilated into American culture.''
And there's something else about immigrants from Mexico and points south.
"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.''
Stringer said there are implications to all that.
"We are increasingly a divided and fragmented people,'' he said. "That's what I mean by an existential threat.''
Consider California, Stringer said, where there is a ballot measure to divide it into three states.
"When you have too much diversity too fast, it undermines social cohesion and community,'' Stringer said.
"And that's where we are in America today,'' he continued. "That's why we have so much division and gridlock and tension and friction in our society.''
All that, Stringer said, goes back to his central theme of slowing immigration.
Arizona GOP head calls on Stringer to resign
PHOENIX -- Citing his comments on immigrants and immigration, the head of the Arizona Republican Party is calling on Rep. David Stringer to resign.
In a brief statement this afternoon, Jonathan Lines said he had read news reports about what Stringer said. That includes not only what showed up in a nearly minute-long video of his speech earlier this week to the Republican Men's Club in Prescott but more extensive comments in an interview with Capitol Media Services.
Among the things that Stringer said:
- Immigration represents "an existential threat to the United States;''
- America's "melting pot'' exists for "people of European descent;''
- Immigrants from south of the border don't assimilate because they maintain connections with their home country.
Stringer also said the fact that there are more minorities than Anglos in Arizona public schools has made integration nearly impossible because "there aren't enough white kids to go around.''
The first-term lawmaker, in his interview with Capitol Media Services, said he was simply telling his audience -- made up largely, if not entirely, of Anglos -- that they need to recognize there are changes that are occurring in the United States because of immigration.
"I'm telling them, 'You need to be prepared for this,' '' Stringer said.
Stringer did not immediately return calls seeking a response to Lines' call for his resignation.
The brief video of what Stringer told the Men's Club on Monday drew the usual -- and mostly predictable -- responses from Democrats, immigration rights activists and political progressives.
Josselyn Berry, co director of ProgressNow Arizona, said his comments "showed the true colors of today's Republican Party,'' calling it "a party of radicalism, xenophobia, and frankly racism.''
But Lines, who wants to preserve the Republican's 35-25 edge in the House of Representatives, becomes the first Republican to weigh in on the issue.
Stringer is in a three-way race for the GOP nomination for the two House seats from the district. Also running is fellow incumbent Noel Campbell of Prescott and Jodi Rooney of Prescott Valley.
Whoever survives that primary will face off against Democrats Ed Gogek and Jan Manolis, both of Prescott, in the November general election.
FULL VIDEO REPOSTED
Added Update: Tempe City Councilman Schapira later reposted the entire 17-minute video of Rep. Stringer's remarks about immigration, which is embedded below.
Video sound may be muted. To unmute, click the speaker icon while playing.
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