PHOENIX — An Arizona state lawmaker unexpectedly apologized Thursday for his remarks last year on race and immigration that led to the loss of his chairmanship on a key committee.
"Issues that relate to race and ethnicity are very sensitive in any setting," David Stringer told fellow legislators. "I believe, on reflection, I have a duty to apologize to you as my colleagues. I apologize to you. I apologize to the speaker. I apologize to our staff here at the House. And I apologize to the public."
Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who called Stringer's racial remarks "vile" and "unacceptable" after they were reported by the Phoenix New Times, thanked him for his apology.
"Mr. Stringer, words hurt at times," Bowers said. "And to different people more than others. But I'm grateful that you recognize that, and that you would be willing to say so in this room."
Stringer faced mounting criticism for remarks in two separate forums last year.
Gov. Doug Ducey and the state GOP chairman called for fellow Republican Stringer to resign last summer when video circulated on social media of him saying "there aren't enough white kids to go around" when discussing integration in schools.
The clip also showed Stringer saying immigration is "politically destabilizing" and "represents an existential threat to the United States."
He said at the time that his comments were taken out of context and refused to step down. He was re-elected in November.
A few weeks later, the Phoenix New Times reported that Stringer told Arizona State University students that African-Americans "don't blend in." He also said Somali immigrants don't look like "every other kid" as previous European immigrants do.
In the New Times story, backed up by audio recordings, students questioned Stringer about his views on immigration and race. He told them "diversity in our country is relatively new."
He then was asked about immigrants from eastern Europe who assimilated well into the 20th century.
"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 American and other racial groups because they don't melt in. They don't blend in. They always look different."
His local city council in Prescott demanded his resignation following those remarks.
Stringer did not immediately respond to a phone call Thursday from The Associated Press.