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Arizona Lawmaker Faces Calls for Resignation After Saying Black People Don’t ‘Blend In’ With Society

Arizona Lawmaker Faces Calls for Resignation After Saying Black People Don’t ‘Blend In’ With Society

Arizona Lawmaker Faces Calls for Resignation After Saying Black People Don’t ‘Blend In’ With Society

Arizona Lawmaker Faces Calls for Resignation After Saying Black People Don’t ‘Blend In’ With Society

Arizona Lawmaker Faces Calls for Resignation After Saying Black People Don’t ‘Blend In’ With Society

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An Arizona state legislator with a history of anti-immigrant commentary is facing calls to resign after he told university students that black people “don’t blend in” to society like European immigrants and “always look different.”

The legislator, Representative David Stringer, who represents the Yavapai County area, made the comments after a public lecture at Arizona State University on Nov. 19, during which a history professor, Donald Critchlow, discussed the 2018 midterm elections.

Mr. Critchlow said students recorded a “private conversation” they had with Mr. Stringer after the lecture. The recording was sent to local news outlets last week.

Mr. Stringer can be heard saying that he doesn’t think America is a “successful nation.” He follows up by saying that “diversity is relatively new” in the country, and that while European immigrants assimilated to society, “that’s not the case with African-Americans or other racial groups because they don’t melt in.”

He said that this was connected to “white flight” and people moving out of Detroit and Baltimore. He said that while the motivations of, for example, Polish immigrants and Somali immigrants are probably similar, the two groups differ in appearance.

One of the voices in the recording can be heard asking if the difference matters.

“It doesn’t matter to you,” Mr. Stringer replied. “Maybe that’s a good thing. It seems to matter to a lot of people.”

A voice on the recording then asked if the difference mattered to Mr. Stringer.

“I honestly don’t know,” he replied.

Mr. Stringer said that immigration was affecting states like Arizona in a “dramatic way.” He claimed that it cost more to educate children who don’t speak English as their first language, which he said was a “burden” on taxpayers. He also said that he wants to slow down immigration because it is happening too fast.

Mr. Stringer could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The context of the conversation and how it began were not immediately clear. Mr. Critchlow said that about 25 people had attended the lecture, and that the talks regularly attract members of the community who are not students or faculty.

“Obviously, I disagree with what he had to say; I think it’s historically wrong,” Mr. Critchlow said. “I took real issue with this.”

There has been widespread condemnation of Mr. Stringer’s comments. Greg Mengarelli, the mayor of Prescott, which is part of Mr. Stringer’s district, said Tuesday that his remarks “reflect poorly on all of us.”

The Prescott City Council voted 6 to 1 to pass a resolution asking for Mr. Stringer’s resignation.

Councilman Phil Goode voted against the resolution, saying that voters re-elected Mr. Stringer “by a large margin with the understanding of his concerns about assimilation of immigrants that were widely published last June before his November election,” according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Stringer was one of two Republicans elected to represent the state’s First Legislative District in November. The district is more than 84 percent white, according to 2012 state demographic estimates.

Mr. Stringer has previously drawn criticism for racially charged comments. Both the state Republican Party chairman and the Republican governor, Doug Ducey, called for Mr. Stringer to resign after he said in June that minority immigration prevented schools’ integration, according to The Associated Press.

Last week, the state party chairman doubled down on his call, amid a wave of Republican and Democratic condemnation of Mr. Stringer’s comments.

“This summer, I called on Representative David Stringer to resign for the good of our state and our party,” the chairman, Jonathan W. Lines, said in a tweet. “It was the right call then, and in light of his recent comments, it’s the right call today.”

A spokesman for Mr. Ducey said Friday that “this type of rhetoric should disqualify someone from serving in the Legislature.”

State Representative Reginald Bolding, who represents the Phoenix area, said in a statement that Mr. Stringer’s comments had “reduced what it means to be American down to one thing: how you look.”

“I’ve worked as hard as him, if not harder, to make my community better,” Mr. Bolding, who is black, said in the statement, “and yet if I were to move in next door, it sounds to me like he’d pack up and move away that night.”

Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker-elect for the Arizona House, removed Mr. Stringer from the chairmanship of the Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee and the vice-chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said on Friday. He was also removed from the House Education Committee.

“At this time, House leadership has no plans for further action against Representative Stringer,” the spokesman, Matthew Specht, said. “However, any member can file an ethics complaint or offer a censure resolution, so Representative Stringer may receive further punishment from the House when it convenes next month.”

He said that the state Constitution allows legislators to expel members for their behavior, not their beliefs.

“However, it allows voters to initiate a recall for any reason,” Mr. Specht added. “Given that Representative Stringer was just re-elected, Speaker-elect Bowers believes that his continued service in the House is up to the people of Legislative District One.”

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