An Arizona state lawmaker is under fire after he was filmed saying immigration is an "existential threat" that will change the face of the United States because "there aren't enough white kids to go around."
Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, made those comments Monday at the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum. He said the majority — 60 percent — of public school students in the state are minorities.
"That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around," Stringer said. "Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this. I’m very concerned about this. Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States."
Stringer's comments, which have been widely shared on social media, were swiftly condemned by Democrats and groups supportive of immigrant rights.
"Stringer’s racist and paranoid comments that we must protect the white race or America will be taken over are dangerous, fear mongering and hateful," said Josselyn Berry, co-director for Progress Now Arizona.
"That he thinks it’s acceptable to attack children in our schools is despicable and he should be ashamed. It should go without saying that all children deserve an education, regardless of their skin color."
The freshman lawmaker didn't respond to a request for comment. His office said he would release a statement, but none had been posted as of 6 p.m.
Stringer, however, didn't back away from his comments in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times. He said a rapid demographic transformation is causing social unrest in America.
“I maybe touched a third rail of politics but what I said is accurate,” Stringer told the Capitol Times. “Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth. Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.”
Stringer's comments from the video gained attention online after David Schapira, a Democrat running for superintendent of public instruction, posted a 50-second clip of them on Twitter.
Schapira called Stringer a “xenophobic radical” and said his comments were “overtly racist.”
House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, also blasted Stringer's comments in a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the incident "yet another source of national embarrassment for our state."
"Just as disturbing, there did not appear to be single murmur of disagreement from the audience," Rios said.
"We work side by side with Rep. Stringer and our Republican colleagues and want to think the best of them. But when will they stand up to divisive rhetoric like this that echoes fervent racists and white nationalists like David Duke?"
Stringer previously encountered controversy at the State Capitol as one of just three representatives — including former Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, — who voted against expelling Shooter from the House after an investigation found he sexually harassed women.
Stringer is running for re-election to the Arizona House in Legislative District 1, a Republican stronghold that encompasses Prescott, Anthem, Carefree and Cave Creek.
Follow Dustin Gardiner on Twitter: @dustingardiner