Jay Lawrence would have been more comfortable with the xenophobic nativist bigots that served in national, state, and local offices in the 1920s and ’30s.
Those people, who publicly championed immigration-refugee restrictions and policies like the ones that prevented the Jewish passengers of the St. Louis (where 254 of them would later become victims of the Holocaust) from landing in the United States in 1939, did not have to worry about having their vile racist remarks recorded at reactionary gatherings.
Jay Lawrence has again opened his filthy bigoted mouth and his comments were recorded for all to hear.
This time the Legislative District 23 State Representative did it while attending a kum ba yah with Fountain Hills Tea Party Activists.
He said this with regards to his differences with Governor Ducey’s decision to allow refugees to settle in Arizona:
“I don’t want refugees settled here. They will take from us, they will make for lower wages for us, they will make for more expense in our schools, more expense in our emergency rooms.”
“I will do all I can, as a legislator, to not accept a refugee population in the state of Arizona. Call me a bigot, whatever you want, I just think it’s best for the state of Arizona.”
Jay Lawrence is a bigot and does not deserve to remain in the legislature.
He has not learned from earlier incidents like the one with the March for Our Lives group where he made equally inappropriate racially charged remarks.
Reaction to Mr. Lawrence’s comments has been swift.
Murphy Bannerman of the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee released a statement which read:
“State Rep. Jay Lawrence once again made bigoted remarks at Jan. 16 political event in Arizona. Lawrence is recorded stating that “refugees take from us and generally make life worse in Arizona …. Call me a bigot, whatever you want…” reported The Arizona Mirror.”
“This is not the first time Lawrence has made controversial comments at a public forum. Last year at a March for Our Lives Arizona, public forum Lawrence stated “Black and brown communities, black communities, in particular, have gangs. And the gangs have to be stopped.”
“Once again Lawrence has shown his ignorance to the needs of our communities, Arizona has long been home to many immigrants and refugee communities. These communities do not take from others, they add to our state and have contributed significantly to our economy. Refugees and immigrants are Arizonans,”
State House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez also issued a statement. It relayed:
“No member of this House should be ok with being considered a bigot or supporting bigotry against refugees who are fleeing violence and oppression. Representative Lawrence’s comments weren’t just shocking and mean-spirited, they were wrong on the facts. Refugees contribute strongly to our economy, starting businesses and at a much higher rate than the U.S.-born population, and contributing billions to state and local governments. And they add richly to the fabric of our culture and society, which is why we unanimously supported refugee resettlement efforts in the House last session and applauded the Governor’s reaffirmation in December. Our caucus is proud that Arizona is a welcoming state for refugees and strongly condemn Representative Lawrence’s statements.”
Legislative District 23 Democratic Chairperson Patti O’Neil commented:
“It is hard for me to read something like this and even give it any energy. By his own admission, he is a bigot. Is that who we want representing us? The issue of refugees is one thing, the issue of hate is another. You can fix one, but you can’t fix the other.”
Eric Kurland, the Democrat looking to defeat Lawrence in this year’s elections (He is currently financially outraising him on a two to one ratio,) wrote:
“Once again, Mr. Lawrence’s comments do not represent the LD23 community I’m proud to call home. We invite people from all over the world here every year to enjoy our beautiful weather and a multitude of outdoor activities. We’re welcoming and we’re happy to help people in times of need.”
Mr. Lawrence has attempted to walk back his comments, telling Fox 10 News that:
“I misspoke. I absolutely misspoke, and I take the blame.”
Mr. Lawrence then proceeded to step in it again by saying:
“My thoughts deal with, I don’t know, that I trust the Federal Government to send us all wonderful refugees. 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.”
The United States is a nation of immigrants and refugees looking for a chance to live the American Dream.
Mr. Lawrence’s grandparents or great parents undoubtedly came to this country as immigrants.
This can probably be said for virtually all of the members of the Arizona State Legislature.
There would not be a United States without immigrants and refugees.
Mr. Lawrence and the people who share his warped nativist world view have forgotten all of this.
The Arizona State Legislature does not need people like Mr. Lawrence in public service.
Hopefully, the voters in Legislative District 23 will come to that same conclusion on November 3, 2020.