Aug 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Fear in America

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Xiara Mercado stands at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Photo: Xiara Mercado via AP

America in 2019: 13 days after El Paso, Latinos are increasingly vocalizing their fear of attacks motivated by their race, ethnicity and culture.

What they're saying: “It’s really hard to be alive as an immigrant right now and to not be sick and exhausted,” Karla Cornejo Villavicencio told the N.Y. Times. “It feels like being hunted.”

Why it matters: This political climate is egged on by President Trump's rhetoric against Mexicans and others.

  • Trump tweeted in January: "More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country."
  • And last June: "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country."
  • Trump in 2015: "The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

The El Paso shooter wrote in his manifesto: "This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas."

The result: Latinos, most of whom are U.S.-born, are afraid, as a powerful USA Today story shows.

  • “As we saw, it didn’t really matter if you were a citizen or not when people were getting shot up ... It was primarily that hatred against Latinos, specifically Mexican Americans, and that was very clear in the manifesto written by the shooter.”— Angélica Cesar, Arizona
  • "Parents, even kids, get scared because they don't know how it's going to be when they go back to school." — Luis Espinoza, Mississippi
  • “I’m definitely angry. I’m angry … because this is the manifestation of the hate speech that was unleashed in our political arena and has just been poisoning our community from the top down." — La Lisa Hernandez, Texas

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

Go deeper