OPINION: Anti-Latinx and immigrant discourse reaches life-threatening levels

Megan Garcia, Intersections Editor

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The morning of Aug. 3 was all normal at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, until 21-year-old Patrick Crusius opened fire on customers, killing 22 people and leaving more wounded. Later a manifesto was discovered, riddled with anti-Latinx and anti-immigrant ramblings. The shooter even referenced a “Hispanic invasion” he believed was taking place in the United States.

Political conflict over immigration has been going on for centuries. Recently, however, the conflict has become so severe that it has many Latinx people fearful for the lives of themselves and their families. This crisis not only affects those near the border, but all individuals around the United States.

Anti-Latinx sentiments have never been so strong. We hear about them in the media nearly every day. Many suggest that President Donald Trump has fostered this Hispanophobic rhetoric through his position of power.

President Trump once asked the audience at one of his rallies in Florida in May how to stop immigration across the border into the United States. When someone replied, “Shoot them,” he shrugged and responded with “That’s only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.”Another time he let audience chants of “Send her back” in North Carolina directed toward Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, continue unimpeded.

Obviously, this sort of language is causing hatred that is being spread towards communities of immigrants and Hispanic people alike. Day-to-day life is becoming dangerous for these communities as they have increasingly become targets for this resentment. Even children are falling victim to the widespread hatred.

The American Civil Liberties Union reported statistics from the government that “indicates at least 2,654 immigrant children were separated from their parents or caregivers as a result of Trump administration policies.” 

Similar to the ICE statistics reported by the ACLU, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported statistics of hate crimes toward different races and ethnicities. The most recent report on hate crimes came out in 2017 and reported that there was a 24% increase in anti-Latinx hate crimes. Coincidentally, the increase in hate crimes in general occurred during the first year of the Trump administration. 

The El Paso shooter himself drove nine hours to commit his atrocious act because of his immense hatred toward Hispanic people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have become regular. In Mississippi, an immigration raid recently took place that detained 680 workers, the majority being Latinx. The raid came a year after Hispanic workers filed a $3.75 million lawsuit due to discrimination on “race, sex, and national origin”. Children of immigrants are being held without their parents at the border in the horrifying conditions of detainment centers.

Many immigrant advocacy groups run by people of color such as New Mexico Dream Team and Neta are forming to help educate immigrants about their rights and how to better protect themselves against the recent uptick in violence and raids. Lawyers are also coming forward to assist immigrants in need of civil rights representation.

While these advocacy groups do tremendously helpful work, they don’t provide much shelter from the harsh discourse that is heard regularly towards immigrants and Hispanic people. Specifically discourse so hateful that it turns into murder.