tags: Press Releases

The hands of those who promote anti-immigrant hate are also stained with blood

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Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week:

The tragedies that took place in Allen and Brownsville, Texas were perpetrated by two Hispanics: one whose supremacist beliefs drove him to kill eight people with an assault rifle in a shopping mall; and another with a long criminal record, who crashed his vehicle—it’s still undetermined whether it was intentional or not—into several immigrants in front of a shelter, killing eight and wounding ten, almost all of whom were people seeking asylum from Venezuela. The end of Title 42 this Thursday, May 11, heightens the fear over more acts of violence at the border.

Just ten days earlier, another man of Mexican origin, identified as Francisco Oropesa, also threw Texas into mourning after carrying out another killing, in the community of Cleveland in San Jacinto County, where he caused the death of five of his neighbors from Honduras, including one who was just nine years old, with an AR-15 rifle.

Unfortunately it has been proven, once again, that hate and prejudice are evils that can afflict any person, no matter their origin. That is, the seeds of hate that find fertile ground in chaotic and unstable minds, and are sown by ultraconservative groups who have normalized and embraced anti-immigrant rhetoric, have supporters within all ethnic groups. Hispanics, despite the fact that statistics prove that hate crimes against them have increased in recent years, are no exception.

According to FBI data, reports of hate crimes against the Latino community rose some 62% in 2018, when 485 incidents were reported, with 671 victims—in comparison to 2015, when there were 299 incidents and 392 victims. It goes without saying that all of that occurred during Donald Trump’s presidency.

To deny that racism and prejudice exist in our Hispanic community would be like denying the history of all of the countries that form this continent, where national origin, social class, economic status, education, or immigration status, just to name a few items, have been used to discriminate, exploit, mistreat and, in extreme cases, kill people.

The motives may even be different, but names like Salvador Rolando Ramos, who killed 21 people in a school in Uvalde, Texas last year; Francisco Oropesa, the alleged killer in Cleveland, also in Texas, or Mauricio García, the supremacist in Allen; can be added to the list of killers who carry out crimes in which four or more people die, which is how the organization Gun Violence Archive classifies mass shootings. All this thanks to the weak laws in this country to control access to guns and assault rifles with which they carry out these massacres.

The situation is more than evident when we all find ourselves to be ethnically mixed, in this experiment called the United States, which prides itself on being a “beacon of equality.” Just visit cities around the country and you’ll see that discrimination exists even among Hispanics. Some think themselves better than others of their same or different nationality. They consider themselves more intelligent or powerful and look disdainfully at others.

Obviously that’s not to generalize since, as in any society, among Hispanics there is a bit of everything: good people, bad people, people who look out for the common good and progress, and others who, as soon as they feel secure, live only to see other people stumble.

But an extremely clear example of this is those who have arrived in the United States from any Latin American country, without documents. They establish themselves, regularize their status somehow, and then condemn and demonize undocumented people who arrive later on, looking for the same opportunities. They are the ones who want to build the wall or close the borders when they are on this side, with or without documents.

We refer now to electoral times to remember how the political acts of Donald Trump—who preached and continues to preach prejudice and racism, and continues to demonize immigrants and call them “invaders,” had Latinos supporting him and still does. And it is not just those among the base who shamelessly repeat insults against their own people, or mistakenly claim that Trump is not referring to them in his attacks, but “others”—as if Trump and his followers made any such distinction. And there are also the powerful people and elected officials who become accomplices themselves, by not condemning racism.

That’s why it’s neither surprising nor strange that Latinos, like other groups in this society, have their own prejudices and such hatred against their peers that it drives them to commit barbaric acts like those in Brownsville and Allen, Texas last weekend.

In addition to this, and regardless of previous results, there are two main issues that this long list of tragic incidents underlines: on the one hand, that mass shootings are one of the most dangerous epidemics in the United States and, on the other, the constant anti-immigrant rhetoric promoted by the conservative ideology. This dangerous binomial is becoming the norm in the last few years, at least since the Trump era, and we don’t think that it’s going to end in the next few months or years. Unfortunately, now it also involves Latinos as perpetrators, which is not good, but is also a reality that we have to accept now.

What needs to be emphasized is the level of responsibility of elected officials—who give a platform and exposure to all of these racist and anti-immigrant attacks against an entire community—without worrying about the deadly consequences their words can have on disturbed minds, Hispanic or not, who one day decide to finish off the “invader” on their own accord. Their hands are also stained with blood.

To read the Spanish version of this column click here.