On July 15, Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen was supposed to be commemorating the Mormon political pioneers of Arizona. Instead, Allen gave a 25-minute speech that included her alarm at the declining birth rate among white people and other anti-immigrant beliefs in what the Phoenix New Times, which published the audio, describes as “rambling.”
To follow the state senator’s train of thought, you have to know that Allen referenced Dr. James Johnson, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor who studies demographics, and his research which he has described as the “Browning of America.” She used his research to talk about assimilation of immigrants into American society.
“Another thing I want to talk about is about assimilation. Another thing that Dr. Johnson talked about is, he called it the ‘Browning of America.’ That America is fast becoming, we’re going to look like South American countries very quickly,” Allen said as a (literal) baby in the audience cried.
Then she talked about how alarming it is that the median age of white women is higher than the median age of Hispanic women. “We are not reproducing ourselves, the birthrates. But here’s what I see is, is the issue. It’s because of immigration,” Allen said.
Of course it is.
Allen continues, alleging that America would have healthcare and education waiting for immigrants if only they came the right way, instead of “flooding” America:
“We want these people coming to our country to understand the greatness of America and our founding documents. We want to assimilate them. We have a right as a country to have people coming in an organized manner, so we know who are coming. So we can have jobs for them. So we can provide education for them, and health care, and all these things that people need. We can’t provide that when people are just flooding us and flooding us and flooding us and overwhelming us so we don’t have time to teach them the principles of our country, any more than we’re teaching our children today, right?”
Then, the speech takes a turn and specifically calls out Arizona state senator Martin Quezada, a Democrat. “So the issue is we want to be able to have the opportunity to teach them why America is great, why they want to come here. That’s the issue. When Senator Quezada says we don’t want to assimilate, we don’t want that, then what do you want? Then what do you plan for America to look like in 10 years? What kind of form of government are we going to live under in 10 years?” Allen asks the audience.
But Allen still has a few more questions. “What is going to happen to my unalienable right to believe my religion—” Allen said before being cut off on the New Times’ recording by who I assume is the same crying baby. “What’s going to happen to my liberty, if you don’t understand what it is?”
Then Allen loses her train of thought. Literally, she says that.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that a Republican Arizona state legislator has publicly used xenophobic rhetoric. Former state representative David Stringer said, “There aren’t enough white kids to go around” Arizona public schools. Stringer later resigned in 2018, but after he refused to cooperate with a state House ethics committee investigation into past sex crime charges, including child pornography, in the early 80s. Not because of his anti-brown people stance.
But back to Allen. The New Times has the full Sylvia Allen audio here. (God bless alt-weeklies.) Her hang-up on immigrants is part and parcel with Republican politics at the state level. When people yell, tweet, and whisper from their goddamn deathbeds about why state politics are crucial, this is why. Take state-level politics seriously.