Donald Trump and his administration may have already forgotten about the El Paso terror attack, but El Paso hasn’t. Rep. Veronica Escobar on Friday chaired a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship field hearing on anti-immigrant and anti-asylum policies and how hateful rhetoric influenced the kind of domestic terrorism that resulted in the killing of 22 people last month in the peaceful border community.
“Anti-immigrant rhetoric is on the rise today and is inflamed by President Trump,” she said in her opening remarks. “Criminals, rapists, drug dealers. That’s how then-candidate Trump described Mexicans when he launched his campaign.” That rhetoric, she continued, “has only escalated over time.”
The hearing was originally intended to examine the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, the El Paso Times reports, “but following last month’s mass shooting—the largest anti-Latino attack in recent U.S. history—the hearing was expanded to include the relationship between the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and domestic terrorism.”
That relationship is undeniable: The white supremacist who targeted El Paso complained about a supposed “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, mirroring Trump’s rhetoric. In fact, as Escobar noted, a USA Today analysis found that Trump has spewed violent, anti-immigrant rhetoric more than 500 times since 2017, including using the word “invasion” at least 19 times.
“Many of us were absolutely stunned when, at a Florida rally in May, the President rhetorically asked the crowd what he should do with migrants who crossed the border,” she continued. “One of the President’s supporters yelled, ‘shoot them!’ And the President laughed.”
This terrorism targeted Latinos and should be a national security concern, yet not one Republican showed up at Escobar’s field hearing. “Unnamed Republican representatives had planned to attend, Escobar said, but ‘backed out at the last minute’ for unknown reasons,” the El Paso Times continued. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said, “Either they don’t really care about these issues or they’re intimated by the president and the administration, [or] maybe both.”