UPDATE (11/30, 3:08 p.m): Republican State Rep. David Stringer has resigned as chair of the House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee after Phoenix New Times published audio of him making racist comments. The original story follows:
Republican State Representative David Stringer, who was abandoned by Republican leadership this summer after he made racist comments, made more racist comments this month while speaking with Arizona State University students.
In audio obtained by Phoenix New Times, Stringer can be heard saying African-Americans "don't blend in," calling non-native English speaking students a "burden," and remarking that Somali-Americans, comparing them with Polish-Americans, don't look like "every other kid."
Stringer, who represents Prescott, made national headlines in June after he was heard in a viral video saying "there aren't enough white kids to go around" in Arizona public schools. Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Republican chair Jonathan Lines both called for Stringer's resignation after New Times reported on his comments.
Stringer was re-elected earlier this month. He did not respond to requests to comment.
Two audio files capture new inflammatory comments made by Stringer on November 19 following a lecture by noted ASU political history professor Don Critchlow on the 2018 election results. (New Times embedded highlights from the audio throughout this piece and posted the full files at the bottom.)
In an email to New Times, Professor Critchlow confirmed that Stringer attended his lecture.
In one of the audio files, three students can be heard challenging Stringer on his views against immigration and multiculturalism after the lecture. ASU sophomore Stephen Chumra — one of the students in the recording — said he and a classmate approached Stringer after reading about the state rep's past racist comments on their smartphones.
Outside the lecture hall, Stringer tells the students that "diversity in our country is relatively new," to which Chumra responds by citing early 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."
Chumra asks, "Why does looking different matter?"
Stringer responded: "I don't know. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it doesn't to a lot of people. 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."
The theme of skin color as it relates to assimilation comes up again when Chumra compares his Polish great grandfather to someone fleeing from the "socialist regime" in Venezuela, both of them "wanting a better life." The student notes that early Polish immigrants faced discrimination, but eventually assimilated.
Stringer responds, "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. But the immigrant from Somalia does not."
Chumra asks, "Does that matter?"
"That's a legitimate question. It doesn't matter to you. Maybe that's a good thing. It seems to matter to a lot of people," Stringer says.
Another student asks, "Does it matter to you?"
"I don't know. I honestly don't know," Stringer responds. He goes on to cite his background "doing a lot of legal aid" for the African-American community in Washington D.C.
During his conversation with students, Stringer also referred to immigrants and non-native English speakers as a "burden" while defending immigration restrictions, which he says are necessary "to create more opportunities for assimilation."
One student asks Stringer to name a solution for the issues he sees with assimilation. Stringer responds that he does not have a solution before going on a tangent about cities with large black populations.
"I don't know how to fix Detroit," Stringer says. "I don't know if anybody does know how to fix Detroit. I lived in Baltimore for years. I don't know how to fix that."
"But that's a different issue than immigration," he continues. "Cities are primarily African-American. They are diverse. They have other groups, but they are primarily African-American. The immigration thing is affecting Arizona and California, Texas, Florida — states like that in a very dramatic way. It's producing tensions and it's producing burdens on our system."
Stringer then refers to Arizona's English-language learning programs.
"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."
In another audio clip obtained by New Times, Stringer can be heard speaking to Professor Critchlow about race and party affiliation. He notes that African-Americans and Asian-Americans lean heavily Democratic before commenting on Hispanics as a voting bloc.
"The Hispanics, even middle-class Hispanics, they vote Democratic because the number one issue is immigration and bringing more — they're coreligionist — bringing more people like them into the country," he says.
Stringer continues: "So you're never going to get Hispanics elected as Republicans as long as the Republican party is for border security and lowering levels of immigration. Not gonna work. They're not that stupid. They understand which party will do more for them."
Stringer's comments in June also referred to his opposition to diversity. Speaking to the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum, he warned that immigration poses an "existential threat" to the United States because of changing demographics.
Stringer refused to answer calls for his resignation after the June remarks. He instead doubled down on his comments during a bizarre press conference at Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
As New Times reported, Stringer's record of making anti-immigrant comments stretches further back than last summer. When he first ran for the legislature in 2016, he told supporters, "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."
Hear the full audio clips below: