PHOENIX – An Arizona lawmaker is speaking out after audio was released of him making controversial comments about refugees coming to Arizona.
The remarks that State Rep. Jay Lawrence said in the recorded audio is upsetting some people.
“I don’t want refugees to come here. They will take from us. They will make for more expense from our schools,” said Lawrence, in the audio recording.
The recording was made while State Rep. Lawrence speaking at a political event in Fountain Hills a week ago, and was released by a liberal Super PAC named “American Bridge 21st Century”. At the event, State Rep. Lawrence says he’d do all he could to not accept a refugee population in the state.
“Call me a bigot. Whatever you want. I just think it’s best for the state of Arizona,” said State Rep. Lawrence, in the recording.
On Tuesday, State Rep. Lawrence walked back his comments, during a sit-down interview with FOX 10’s Matt Galka.
“I misspoke,” said State Rep. Lawrence. “I absolutely misspoke, and I take the blame.”
State Rep. Lawrence didn’t completely back away, however, as he said he still had questions about people who resettle here.
“My thoughts deal with, I don’t know, that I trust the Federal Government to send us all wonderful refugees,” said State Rep. Lawrence. “They’re all charming, wonderful, legal. I don’t know if it’s that true. I don’t know if there aren’t spies among them, people who want to do us harm.”
State Democratic Party officials blasted the comments, and cited a resolution passed unanimously in 2019 supporting refugees.
“I was really disappointed,” said State Rep. Athena Salman (D-Tempe). “I think last year, last session, the House took a significant step. All 60 members proclaimed Arizona as a welcoming state for refugees.”
“You look at the bills I’ve supported, the bills I’ve written, and bigotry is not even in my ballpark,” said State Rep. Lawrence.