Photo credit: Walmart
On August 3, 2019, white supremacist Patrick Crusius murdered 23 individuals and injured 23 more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history. Two years later, animosity towards Latino-Americans and immigrants remains at dangerous levels.
Crusius traveled roughly 10 hours to reach the El Paso Walmart, and posted a manifesto highlighting his premeditated and purposeful targeting of Latinos, writing the attack was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” in which he was merely defending the country from “cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” Today, Crusius’s language is still being echoed and amplified by white supremacists and mainstream figures alike.
Central to Crusius’ attack was “The Great Replacement,” and the belief that “white” Americans are being replaced by non-white immigrants, with the result being the extinction of the white race and of the United States. “Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs,” Crusius wrote in his manifesto. “They will turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country.” This white supremacist theory persists in extremist rhetoric today, and has recently made its way into mainstream politics and media.
Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers has frequently used inflammatory language to describe immigrants, referring to them as “invaders” who are “swarming” the border, bringing disease and crime with them. In July, Rogers alluded to prominent Great Replacement themes, tweeting, “We are being replaced and invaded.” When asked to clarify her remarks, Rogers said, “I will not back down from this statement. Communists & our enemies are using mass immigration, education, big tech, big corporations & other strategies to accomplish this. The groups who are doing this undermine our families, our history, our faith, and our rights.” In March, Rogers tweeted, “We have a virus state of emergency on our border. The virus is getting in through the flood of illegals. It is time for an immigration moratorium.”
The same month, Arizona representative Paul Gosar wrote in a fundraising email, “[Immigrants] refuse to assimilate, and instead bring their foreign languages and cultures here. We are importing the Third World, and that’s what we will get. Soon, America will be unrecognizable, unless we put a stop to this insanity.”
At CPAC 2021 in Dallas, also in July, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick opened the conference with a speech about immigration, saying, “What's happening on the border today is not an accident. It’s purposeful. It’s a designed plan. Why are they [Democrats] letting millions of people pour across this border? Because they want to turn them into citizens, turn them into voters and take over this country…If we fail, America falls.”
While mainstream anti-immigrant rhetoric has escalated in recent years, white supremacist vitriol towards America’s Latino population also continued in the wake of the El Paso attack, and many themes central to Crusius’ manifesto continue to be echoed in both extremist anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In the two years since El Paso, right-wing extremists have not carried out any deadly mass shooting attacks – but the community continues to be targeted by anti-immigrant propaganda, online rhetoric and bigoted attacks.
White supremacist propaganda has maintained its focus on immigration; groups like Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA) and Hundred Handers continue to distribute anti-immigration and anti-Latino fliers nationwide. Since the El Paso attack, NJEHA has disseminated hateful propaganda more than 250 times, which in many instances has been explicitly anti-immigrant, including: “End immigration now before the first world becomes the third,” and “Mass immigration is an attack on the working class.”
In April 2021, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) held their annual national conference in Phoenix, Arizona, which included a public flash demonstration along the U.S.-Mexico border, where NSM Captain Harry Hughes said they could “witness evidence of illegal immigration.” In March, Hughes posted a photo of himself “patrolling” the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.
In 2020, a white supremacist Telegram channel post included an image glorifying Christchurch, New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant alongside the words “Parasite Removal Force” and a quote from Tarrant’s manifesto: “We must crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil.” Crusius wrote that he admired Tarrant, who murdered 51 people in his 2019 shooting spree.
Selection of reported anti-Latino hate incidents and attacks since El Paso:
- In July 2021, John Kantz of Cary, North Carolina placed “I (heart) being white” stickers in and around Mexican restaurants.
- In June 2021, homeowners in Toledo, Ohio allege that a neighbor spray-painted anti-immigrant graffiti on their home in a majority Hispanic neighborhood. The messages included “Deport illegals,” “Build the wall,” and “Support ICE.”
- In June 2021, tortillas were thrown at a predominantly Latino high school basketball team in Sacramento, California.
- In April 2021, Mack Jackson allegedly attacked an ice cream vendor in National City, California with a metal steering wheel lock, saying, “I hate Mexicans and if I ever see you again, I’m going to kill you.”
- In April 2021, Ernesto Francisco of Inglewood, California was attacked by women who allegedly yelled racial slurs before shoving the flower vendor to the ground.
- In February 2021, Jeremy Michael Anderson was charged with ethnic intimidation after attempting to burn down a home in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. Anderson allegedly believed the home was occupied by Mexican immigrants and told investigators multiple times that he threw the Molotov cocktails to retaliate and “(get) back” at “the Mexicans.”
- In February 2021, Dr. Jennifer Susan Wright allegedly assaulted a Latino man outside of a supermarket in Florida. Wright assaulted the man and stabbed “the victim’s vehicle with her keys while saying he needed to go back to his country.”
- In February 2020, a mother and daughter in Boston, Massachusetts were physically assaulted by two women after speaking Spanish. One of the attackers allegedly stated, “We are in America, we don’t speak Spanish here, speak English!”
- In December 2019, Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, of Des Moines, Iowa, struck two children with her Jeep because she believed one child to be of Middle Eastern or African descent and the other to be “a Mexican.”