El Paso shooting became the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2019 and the seventh deadliest in its modern history. It was a domestic terrorist attack deliberately against the Hispanic community (notably against Mexicans) living and traveling in the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed their sorrow for the families of the victims. In addition, Uruguay and Venezuela issued travel warnings to their citizens intending to visit the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump also condemned the incident by calling out racism and bigotry in the country. Lest we forget, a dividing wall has been in the background noise of his administration, along with the past branding of Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals.” His infamous remarks against minorities have long echoed with fearful and aggrieved Americans, and now the consequences come as no surprise.
Early this week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale expressed that the federal government is uneasy of the recent acts of terror led by white supremacy ideology in Canada and out of the country. Precisely white supremacist and anti-immigrant beliefs of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” were at the center of this heinous hate crime.
The sentiments materialized explicitly in a manifesto posted online by the shooter, where he claimed to protect his nation “from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” (President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign team has refused to avoid the word “invasion” to refer to the Hispanic migration.) However, the shooters’ views were not only racist and xenophobic but also historically inaccurate.
In the early 19th century, Mexico liberalized its immigration policies and invited settlers from the United States to immigrate to Texas. Many of whom brought enslaved people, although slavery was prohibited in Mexico.
70% of Hispanic Texas residents were born in the United States, according to a 2014 Pew Research Centre study.
By the time of the Texas Revolution in 1835, thousands of Americans were illegally flooding into the country. The insurgency ultimately resulted in the creation of the autonomous “Republic of Texas”, which was later annexed to the United States in 1845.
The Texas population by 1860 was quite multicultural, large numbers of European whites (from the American South), African Americans (mostly slaves from the east), Tejanos (Hispanics with Spanish heritage) and German immigrants shared the territory. Hence, it should not surprise us to see a vibrant Hispanic community currently living in Texas.
In fact, 70% of Hispanic Texas residents were born in the United States, according to a 2014 Pew Research Centre study.
More recently, El Paso has become one of the most hectic entry points for undocumented migrants, mostly coming from Central America, and seeking asylum at the Mexico–United States border.
Both Canada and Mexico are countries with a record of accomplishment recognizing migrant’s human rights, but the influx of settlers only seems to continue rising and there is a need for a carefully-planned support system.
Consequently, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pressed Canada to assist Mexico’s refugee burden and help resettle the most vulnerable. Many of these asylum seekers are women and girls fleeing gang violence, as well as members of the transgender and gay communities that do not feel safe in their countries.
More can and should be done to find a plausible solution, especially on the most sensitive cases whereby individuals are at imminent risk. I hope that this unfortunate event will urge Canada, the United States, and Mexico to put human security first and consider having an adult conversation on migration.