Arizona GOP lawmaker apologizes for 'browning of America' immigration comment

Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen
(Image credit: AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)

Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R) "sincerely apologized" on Facebook over the weekend "to anyone who has been hurt" by comments on immigration she made at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters on July 15, published late last week by the Phoenix New Times. Near the end of her speech, Allen brought up James Johnson, a University of North Carolina business professor who studies demographics, and things got dicey.

"Another thing that Dr. Johnson talked about is the 'Browning of America,' that America is fast becoming — we're going to look like South American countries very quickly," Allen said. "The median age of a white woman is 43. The median age of a Hispanic woman is 27. We are not reproducing ourselves, the birthrates. But here's what I see is the issue. It's because of immigration." She said her concern was "assimilation" and being unable to teach the flood of immigrants what makes America great, but she also worried about "what kind of form of government are we going to live under in 10 years?"

Allen wrote on Facebook that she was "quoting data directly from a speech" she heard by "Dr. Johnson (an African American)," and "The Browning of America" is "Dr. Johnson's title!!" The "reference to South America was the concern that some of these countries are socialist and that we must preserve our Constitutional Republic form of government and that we have not taught the next generation the difference," she said.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Johnson's presentations portray immigration as a net positive, and he told The Washington Post on Sunday that the "browning" of America means "the nice and neat little crucibles we're accustomed to putting people in won't fit in the future because of the growing diversity of our population. ... And I view all of that as a strength, not as a weakness or a problem." It will be increasingly important to "embrace immigrants and people of color" to be globally competitive, he added.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.