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Washington Post Oped: Call the El Paso shooting what it is: Domestic terrorism against the Hispanic community

Stephanie Valencia

In response to the tragic El Paso shooting on Saturday, dozens and dozens of Latino leaders across the country signed onto an oped that ran in the Washington Post online edition on Tuesday, August 6th. In addition to the signers who appeared in the online edition, the following people have also signed onto the letter (last updated at 6:45PM ET, on Tuesday, August 6, 2019).

Stephanie Valencia is the co-founder of EquisLabs. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat, represents Texas in the U.S. House and is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Ana Maria Archila is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. Cristina Jiménez is the executive director of United We Dream. Luis Miranda was an aide to President Barack Obama. Luis Miranda Jr. is board chair of the Latino Victory Fund and founding president of the Hispanic Federation. The above individuals circulated the letter and it is co-signed by 33 other Latino leaders listed at the bottom of the op-ed.

The deadly mass shooting in El Paso this past weekend was an attack on a U.S. city that many of us call home. It is also a city that has been one of the safest in the country for years, and it is now a city where there were almost as many murders Saturday morning as there were in all of last year. It is a city that is more than 80 percent Latino, including many immigrants. So let’s call Saturday’s heinous act of violence what it is: a carefully calculated and purposeful hate crime targeted at the Hispanic and immigrant community. It is an act of domestic terrorism.

Many will not want to hear or believe this: Hispanics in this country are under attack. Black and brown people in this country are under attack. Immigrants in this country are under attack. And President Trump is fanning the flames of hate, division and bigotry directed at us all — immigrants and U.S. citizens alike. Though the attack has been pervasive for many people in this country for years, it is becoming an epidemic that is quickly infecting more communities and posing a real threat to our country. The president is also providing cover for white nationalists, explicitly endorsing hate speech and tacitly endorsing violence.

We, along with dozens of Latino leaders, demand leadership from both political parties, call on them to stand with allpeople in our country and proudly acknowledge that the diversity of our country has been our greatest strength. Our leaders must have the courage to stand tall against this hate, not just in words, but also in actions that protect their fellow Americans.

We cannot excuse the vile behavior of Saturday’s shooter or gloss over the actions of others who have committed similar atrocities as just a sickness or mental health issue. This is hate and white nationalism, plain and simple, and it is fueled by irresponsible rhetoric. Unabashedly saying that Muslims should not be allowed in this country, warning people of invasions from Hispanics and immigrants (as cited in the suspect’s manifesto), encouraging chants of “send them back” and calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists “very fine people” are all examples of rhetoric that inspires hate and violence. We see the consequences in the stories of the victims and their families who mourn them, in the tears of those caring for the wounded.

A toxic combination of guns and hate is the problem. Keeping guns out of the hands of those who would perpetrate violence is an important part of the answer, and the Senate must immediately act to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, update our laws and insist on regulations that meet the challenges of 21st-century America. Still, it is as important to address the root of the problem and stop the division, polarization and propagation of dehumanizing rhetoric that inspire these acts of hate. Washington, too, must act, and Congress must hold this administration accountable to ensure that groups promoting dangerous conspiracy theories and hate are designated as domestic terrorists. That includes the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, and other white supremacist and separatist idealists.

Domestic violent extremism perpetuated by white nationalists affects Americans from all backgrounds. On Saturday, it was a Latino community; not long ago it was a Jewish congregation worshiping at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Muslims at a mosque in California. African Americans at Bible study in Charleston, S.C. Our gun violence epidemic is further fueling hate crimes. Since the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 there have been 2,193 mass shootings, resulting in 2,478 deaths and more than 9,000 injuries, including tragically in Dayton, Ohio, just hours after El Paso. We are all connected, and we must speak out.

 The administration should also publicly announce that it is suspending deportation and enforcement actions in areas affected by this violence so that victims can seek medical care and the support they need to recover regardless of immigration status.

We are standing up for the soul of this country. And we have a lot of healing to do. But we are at a critical crossroads: Are we going to continue to tolerate the slayings of our fellow citizens and human beings based on their religion, national origin or skin color? Are we going to allow ourselves to be divided and separated? We think we are better than that. We know we are better than that.

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)

Adan Acevedo

Adria Marquez, Vice Chair, Obama Latinos44 Alumni Association

Adrian Saenz, Founder, Mosaic Media Strategy Group

Aileen Schlef, Consultant

Aissa Canchola, Legislative Director, US House of Representatives

Alejandra Gonzalez, Policy Coordinator, National Security Action

Alejandro Becerra, Director of Research, NAHREP

Alejandro R. Rodriguez

Alfonso Lopez, Minority/Demcratic Whip and Member, 49th District, Virginia House of Delegates

Alliance in Mentorship, Mi Mentor

Amanda K., Founder and CEO, Javilud LLC

Amanda Renteria, President, Emerge

Amber Seira, Special Advisor to the Associate Administer, Latinos44

Amilcar Guzman, National President, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Alumni Association

Ana Marie Argilagos, President and CEO, Hispanics in Philanthropy

Ana Sol Gutierrez, Former MD State Legislator, MD General Assembly

Andrea Mercado, Executive Director, New Florida Majority

Angela Maria Kelley

Anna Lisa

Anne Cardenas

Arely Ramirez Diaz, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Arturo Vargas, CEO, NALEO

Bernadette Carrillo Hobson, former Deputy White House Liaison, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Brenda Arredondo, Director, The Raben Group

Brenda Luna Macedo

Brian Castro, Attorney

Brianna M. Carmen, Director of Organizing and Partnerships, Voto Latino

C. Eduardo Vargas Toro, Senior Associate, International Center for Religion & Diplomacy

Carmen Lomellin, Ambassador

Caroline Soberanis

Cecilia Muñoz

Celinda Peña

Christian Esperias, National Senior Director of Campaign Strategy, SFER Action Network

Chuck Rocha, Founder, National Association of Diverse Consultants

Cindy Nava, Speaker & Policy Advocate

Cindy Padilla

Courtney B. Taylor

Cynthia Jasso Rotunno

Daniel Balke, PhD Student, UC Berkeley, Department of Political Science

Daniel R. Suvor, Attorney

Dante Barry, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice

Dave Montez, Senior Director, Democracy Alliance

Dusti Gurule, Executive Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

Edgar Flores, NV Assemblyman and lawyer

Edna Z. Ruano, Former Director, Public Affairs & Communications, Formerly with the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security

Eduardo Canales, Director, South Texas Human Rights Center

Eduardo Cisneros, Community Leader

Eduardo Guevara

Eduardo Sainz, Arizona State Director, Mi Familia Vota

Elena Rios, MD, President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association

Elisa Montoya, Former Executive Secretary & Director of Administration, Department of Homeland Security and Director, National Security, Presidential Personnel, the White House Private Citizen

Elisa Montoya, Former Counselor & White House Liaison, Peace Corps; Former Executive Secretary & Director of Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Former Director, National Security, Office of Presidential Personnel, the White House, Private Citizen

Elvis S. Cordova, President, Statecraft Strategies

Eric Hernandez, President, CHCI Alumni Association, DC Chapter

Eric Waldo, Executive Director, Reach Higher

Esther Morales

Fatima Cuevas, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Fernando Ramos, Principal, FLR Strategies LLC

Fernando Trevino, Principal, Trevino Strategic Consulting

Francesca de Quesada Covey

Francisco Reinoso

Francisco Sanchez, Former US Under Secretary of Commerce, Private Citizen

Franco Caliz-Aguilar, Senior Political Advisor, Community Change Action

Frankie Andres Martinez Blanco, Associate Director, XQ Institute

Gabriel Esquenazi

Gabriel Sandoval, Civil Rights and Education Attorney

Gabriela D. Lemus, Ph.D., President of the Board, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE Culinary Union

Georgina C. Verdugo, Former Director. Office for Civil Rights, US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Gilda Pedraza, Executive Director, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia)

Grecia Lima, Political Director, Community Change Action

Griselda Guevara-Cruz, Educator

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA

Hector Sanchez Barba, Executive Director, LCLAA

Irma Esparza Diggs

Jaqueline Cortez Wang

Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road NY

Javier Martinez

Jennifer M. López, Community Advocate

Jesse Salazar, Former Obama Administration Appointee

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Joelle Martinez, Executive Director, Latino Leadership Institute

John Amaya, Former Deputy Chief of Staff, ICE, Department of Homeland Security

John Carlos Green, Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

Jose Borjon, Texas Resident, Concerned Citizen

José E. López, Executive Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Jose Galarza

Jose P Garza, Co-Executive Director, Workers Defense Project

Jose Rico

Juan Sebastian Gonzalez, Senior Fellow, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement

Julian Alcazar

Julie Martinez Ortega, Director — Washington Office, Sandler Phillips Center

Karina Cabrera Bell

Kate Garza

Kate Villarreal

Katherine Archuleta, Former Director of US Office Personnel Management

Kevin Figueroa, Founder, Central Americans for Empowerment (CAFE)

Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity

Kristie Hernandez, Board Member, Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA

Kurt Sackerman, Candidate, Kurt for America’s Voice

L. Alejandro Molina, Co-cordinator, National Boricua Human Rights Network

Laura C Forero Orozco

Laura Castillo

Laura Jimenez,

Laura Marquez, Board Member, Latinos44

Leo Cruz, Associate Director of Communications and Campaigns, National Security Action

Lia Parada, Director of Government Affairs, Center for American Progress

Lisa Garcia

Lisa Hunter

Lisa Pino, Former Obama Official, USDA and DHS Attorney, Immigration

Liz Alarcon, Founder & Director, Pulso

Liz Chavez, Communications / Digital Strategist

Liz Montoya

Lizet Ocampo, Political Director, People For the American Way

Lizette Olmos, Communications Manager, CASA (Former Obama HHS appointee)

Loida L. Tapia, Director of Public Engagement, Michigan Department of State

Lourdes Castro Ramirez

Lucy Flores, CEO, Luz Collective

Luis Ávila, Founder, Instituto Lab

Luis Melero, Former Senior Policy Advisor, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Luz Mendez, Senior Advisor, Former State Department Official

Marco A. Lopez, Jr, Frm. border mayor, Nogales, AZ, Intermestic Partners

Marcos Vilar, Executive Director, Alianza for Progress

Margaret Olmos

Maria Teresa Kumar, President/CEO, Voto Latino

Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center

Marina A. Torres

Marisa Franco, Director and Co-Founder, Mijente

Marissa Padilla

Maritza Perez, Lawyer, Policy Analyst, and Activist

Mark Magaña, Founding President & CEO, GreenLatinos

Marlene Sallo, Former Staff Director, US Commission on Civil Rights

Marsha Catron

Marta Urquilla, Former Senior Policy Advisor, White House Domestic Policy Council

Martin Cuéllar, Former Deputy Director, White House

Matt A. Barreto, Latino Decisions

Mayra E Alvarez, President, The Children’s Partnership

Mel Wilson, Senior Policy Consultant, National Association of Social Workers

Melissa Morales, President, Somos Votantes

Melissa Vargas

Mercedes Marquez, President, Márquez Community Strategy

Michael C. Camuñez, Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce

Michelle Dhansinghani, CEO, Elan Strategies

Myra Garcia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, College Assistant Professor-New Mexico State University

Nancy H. Sutley, Former Chair, White House Council in Environmental Quality

Nate Snyder, Former Obama DHS Senior Counterterrorism Official, Cambridge Global Advisors and Latinos44

Nathaly Arriola, Executive Director, Need To Impeach

Noerena Limon, SVP — Policy and Advocacy, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP)

Oliva Lopez, Co-Founder, Latinos44

P. David Lopez, Dean Rutgers Law School — Newark

Patrick Hidalgo, Co-founder, Miami Freedom Project

Pili Tobar, Deputy Director, America’s Voice

Rafael Lemaitre, Former Director of Public Affairs, FEMA

Rafael López, Former Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families and Former Senior Policy Advisor, The White House DPC & OSTP

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Former Obama Administration LGBTQ Liaison

Ramona E. Romero

Raul Alvillar, Former National Political Director Democratic Party

Rebeca Rumayor, CMO, Rumayor Marketing

Ricardo Alfaro, President, Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia

Ricardo Rauseo, Constituency Media Associate, Center for American Progress

Ricardo Reinoso

Robert Julien, Staff Assistant, Office of Majority Whip James E. Clyburn

Dr. Robert Ross

Roció Saenz, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union

Sam Jammal, Attorney

Samuel Molina, California State Director, Mi Familia Vota

Sarah Audelo, Executive Director, Alliance for Youth Action

Sergio Gonzales, Deputy Director, The Immigration Hub

Shantel Meek, Professor of Practice and Director of Policy, The Children’s Equity Project, Arizona State University

Sigrid Gonzalez

Sindy M. Benavides, CEO, LULAC

Soledad Roybal, Founder and President, Latino Tech Policy Initiative

Sonia Rangel, Chief Operations Officer, Corazón Latino

Sonja Diaz, Founding Executive Director, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative

Stephanie Gómez, Houston Activist

Steve Haro, Principal, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas

Steven Montoya, Senior Director of State Capacity Building, State Voices

Sulma Arias, Immigration Field Director, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)

Sylvia Ruiz, Immigrant Justice Campaigns

Tammye Trevino, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Bexar County

Tatiana Torres, Director, Social Impact & Community Affairs

Teresa Chaurand

Tony Martinez, Former Chief of Staff Wage & Hour Division, Obama-Biden Appointee

Tory Gavito, President, Way to Win

Valentina Pereda, Documentary Filmmaker

Vanessa Quintana, Founding Community Organizer, Denver Community Action Network

Vanessa Valdivia

Victor M Mendez, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation

Victor Vasquez, Nonprofit Consultant

Victoria Ochoa, Student, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Vivian Graubard

Vivian Nava-Schellinger, Partnerships & External Affairs, National Council on Aging

Yaheiry Mora, Director, CASA in Action

Yol-Itzma Aguirre, Columnist, El Paso Herald Post

Yvanna Cancela, State Senator, Nevada State Senate


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