Lawrence walks back anti-refugee comments

Rep. Jay Lawrence: “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.”
/Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

By Laura Gómez | Arizona Mirror

In interviews with several Valley journalists following Arizona Mirror reporting on leaked audio of him disparaging refugees, Rep. Jay Lawrence of Scottsdale backed down from his comments that refugees “take from us,” which he admitted some might view as bigoted. 

Lawrence told Fox 10 he “absolutely misspoke.” He said to ABC15 that his comments were “taken out of context.” And he stated to KTAR he was “taunted by someone” to say he is OK with being called a bigot, something that was “a mistake” and “was dumb on my part.” 

But those explanations are contradicted by what happened at the Fountain Hills AZ Tea Party meeting on Jan. 16. He wasn’t goaded or hectored into making the comments, and they weren’t made in some larger context. Instead, they were a response to a simple question: “What is your feeling on refugee resettlement?” 

Lawrence swiftly responded, “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.”

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