- The shooter responsible for 20 deaths in a Walmart in El Paso may have sought to target immigrant and Hispanic people.
- The city is home to one of the largest shares of Hispanic people in the US, and more of the city speaks Spanish than English.
- The region also saw a 547% surge in migrant apprehensions – or ICE arrests – in 2019.
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El Paso, the Texas city that was the site of a mass shooting at a Walmart this weekend, is one of the largest hubs for Latino and Hispanic people in the country.
Authorities say the shooter is a 21-year-old white male who may have circulated an anti-immigrant manifesto hours before the attack. The document expresses fears of “a Hispanic invasion of Texas,” and that immigrants would turn it into a “Democrat stronghold.” Police are currently working to confirm whether the suspected shooter penned the online statement.
As of this writing, Texas officials say 26 people were wounded and 21 died during the mass shooting, including seven Mexican citizens.
El Paso sits directly across the border from Ciudad Juarez in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. The city was 83% Hispanic or Latino as of July 1, 2018, according to the US Census Bureau, while a quarter of residents were foreign-born.
Furthermore, nearly 70% of El Paso speaks Spanish, making it one of just 22 US cities and towns with more Spanish speakers than English speakers.
El Paso is also the estimated 38th largest city with the most unauthorized immigrants, according to Pew Hispanic. The El Paso region saw a 547% surge in migrant apprehensions – or ICE arrests – in the first half of fiscal year 2019, and so far ranks second in the number of total arrests this year.
El Paso currently hosts one of the largest enclosures to house largely Central American migrants crossing the Mexican border to seek asylum, as 570 people cross the area each day on average.
“If you look at the numbers from March, there was over 100,000 people that came across the borders. Roughly 53,000 of those individuals were family units, and 39,000 were children,” US Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders told Business Insider’s Graham Flanagan earlier this year. “So it’s truly unprecedented, the numbers that we’re seeing come across.”
Many politicians and pundits called the act as one motivated by white nationalism, including Democratic presidential candidate from El Paso, Beto O’Rourke. The former Congressman criticized Donald Trump’s anti-Latino rhetoric as inciting violence and racism.
When asked by CNN whether he thinks Trump is a white nationalist, O’Rourke agreed and added, “We have a problem with white nationalist terrorism in the United States of America today. These are white men motivated by the kind of fear that this President traffics in.”