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Fear Rippling Through Latino Community, Started by Wave of Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric And Turbocharged By El Paso Mass Murder

 

Mario Carrillo: “When the president of the United States not only enables prejudice, but encourages it, it makes for a dangerous environment.”

In a recent piece for the Washington Post, Rachel Hatzipanagos takes a look at the climate of fear in the Latino community caused by the anti-immigrant rhetoric stemming from President Trump and his administration, and turbocharged by the horrific mass shooting that “targeted Mexicans” in El Paso. 

In addition, the Arizona Republic is out with a piece that lifts up the voices of Latinos across the U.S. who are newly forced to deal with the fact that Stephen Miller and the President are determined to dehumanize Latinos and immigrants, and thereby leads many to fear that the U.S. government has put a target on Latino and immigrant backs.  

Rachel Hatzipanagos’ piece is excerpted below and available in full here

…this month, a man traveled hundreds of miles from his home in Allen, Tex., to El Paso and is charged with killing 22 people at a Walmart…The suspect, Patrick Crusius, told officers he was looking to kill “Mexicans,” police said.

…A Pew Research Center study this year found that 58 percent of Hispanic adults say they’ve experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Across racial and ethnic groups, about two-thirds said that it has become more common for people to express racist views since Trump became president. Researchers say victims of racism experience negative health outcomes. Studies have linked Trump’s rise to an increase in premature births among Latinas, and others have tied it to increased anxiety and depression in the general Latinx population.

Those anxieties were realized in the El Paso shooting. For some Latinos who’ve been dealing with racial turmoil in the age of Trump, violence was always the horrifying logical progression.

“I don’t think you could ever imagine something like this happening,” said Mario Carrillo of Austin. “But I feel like you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s surprising, given the rhetoric.”

Carrillo recalls a rally three months ago when Trump asked the audience how they would stop migrants: “How do you stop these people?” Someone yelled back, “Shoot them.” A video of the rally showed Trump smirking.

“He didn’t condemn it then, and that’s something that should be so easy for a president to do, to say that you shouldn’t shoot human beings on sight,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo is the Texas state director for America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group. He immigrated to the United States from Mexico with his parents when he was 5 years old.

“I don’t think I’ve felt less welcome as an immigrant to this country than I have in the last three years,” said Carrillo, now 34 and a naturalized U.S. citizen. His wife is a DACA recipient, one of the undocumented “dreamers” brought to the United States as children, and he said he lives in “constant fear” of her being detained or deported. In his advocacy work, the undocumented immigrants he works with are all experiencing the same thing.

“I think the climate for Latinos right now is very dangerous, and I think it really starts at the top with the president’s rhetoric,” Carrillo said. “I’m very well aware that racism against Latinos didn’t start with Donald Trump, but when the president of the United States not only enables prejudice, but encourages it, it makes for a dangerous environment.”

…“I feel like the narrative on immigration has gotten to a point where some people refuse to see the humanity of immigrants,” Carrillo said. “That can lead to the dangerous consequences we’ve seen now.”

The Arizona Republic piece titled, “After El Paso, Latinos across America voice a new kind of fear” is excerpted below and available in full online. 

The mass shooting in El Paso was one of the deadliest hate crimes in American history against Latinos.

The shooter left a manifesto with anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant sentiment. 

Now, the fear among Latino people is palpable. 

Latinos are calling this a turning point. The shooting, they say, has peeled back the hate behind words they’ve tried to ignore. It has sliced open the racism many grew up learning to navigate.

How do you turn the other cheek, they wonder, when the weapon is loaded with bullets? 

Veronica Arroyo Bonet

Fort Myers, Florida

She’s standing between church pews in a wide aisle that stretches past an American flag to the pulpit. This is where she prays.

Since the shooting, she’s watched the faces of Latino children and parents. At El Buen Samaritano in Fort Myers, Florida, where she’s a church leader. At the Lee County schools where she’s a teacher’s aide. At the malls and parks of Cape Coral, where she lives. And at home with her own children, her own friends and family.

… 

La Lisa Hernandez

Corpus Christi, Texas

…It’s been building. 

“It’s not just Hispanics, it’s people of color in general,” she says.

“I feel like temperatures are just boiling over right now with hate in this country, and folks that say that they don’t see it are being willfully ignorant every day.”

Behind her there’s a little girl and a little boy eating. She waves her hands to punctuate her message and bows her head for a moment. 

 “Every day, it’s like we’re suffering from exhaustion; it’s like a syndrome,” she says.

She’s an artist. She has painted pieces with messages against domestic violence. She grew up in a military family that traveled the world. Now, she sees domestic terrorism against her own Latino community. 

Guillermo Glenn 

El Paso, Texas 

He went to pick up a few things at Walmart. The center was busy, as it is most days. Walking down a crowded aisle, he saw something that didn’t make sense.

“I knew there was something really wrong … but what really confirmed it was I saw a couple of women who were bloody,” he says. “I knew then that there was a shooting.”

He threw aside his cart, but he didn’t run.

“I noticed that this middle-aged woman had been shot in the legs and she was sitting right in the aisle,” he says. “She couldn’t get up. So me and an elderly lady, we stayed with her, because she was very panicked. She didn’t know where her son was. We were trying to calm her down.”

There would be many others scrambling to help. He joined shoppers, people, like him, who would later become survivors and witnesses to another mass shooting, this one in his hometown, this one targeting people who look like him.

“I had their blood on my hands, and that was very … It didn’t really hit me as hard as it did later,” he says.

He didn’t know then how the shooting would settle inside of him later. He didn’t understand, not yet, not fully, how a mass shooting in his border town of Mexican nationals and Mexican Americans would hit Latinos across the nation.

Now, he is trying to make sense of how to move forward.

“I think we connect it up to a lot of the things that, for instance, (what) President Trump has been saying about immigrants, and we feel very strongly that we’re being targeted,” he says.

“That young man from Dallas had an idea about where he was going. He didn’t do it by chance.”

“He knew there were other white supremacists around El Paso,” Glenn says. “We have those people fundraising for the wall and they are armed. We fear that’s going to attract other people to come to the border.”

Glenn is 78. He’s not afraid to speak the truth. Maybe more truth about what people of color live with would help others stop living in denial.

“In Texas and here in El Paso, there’s a strong effort to cover it up if there’s any problems of race,” he says. “We can be unified, but we shouldn’t cover up the racism that has existed and exists in El Paso.”