Latinos across US fearful after El Paso mass killings


(CNN) - The deadly mass shooting in El Paso is leaving many Latinos nationwide feeling vulnerable, scared and upset.

About 2,200 miles from the Texas city, Hispanics in Long Island, N.Y. said they are living in fear.

Saturday’s attack targeting migrants reverberated across minority communities, including the city of Brentwood, N.Y., not far from where there were attacks targeting Hispanics a decade ago. Maria Magdalena Hernandez, a member of the advocacy group Make the Road New York, worries Salvadoran immigrants such as herself could also become the target of white nationalists.

"For me, there's an increased fear," Hernandez said, via translator. "We may not talk about it, but it's definitely palpable in and around our communities. We deserve dignity, respect and peace."

Hernandez's feelings were shared by others, including her co-worker Javier Guzman.

"He was trying to kill immigrants," Guzman said of the El Paso shooter. "That's why he went all the way down to the border, so that's scary."

As an organizer for the migrant advocacy group, Guzman says this concern has been heavy on the minds of the families he helps.

"We've seen a lot of fear in the community because of that, because it's real now," he said. "We can connect those dots, and people know they are in danger just because of the color of their skin."

It's also personal for Latinos on the West Coast.

"When things like this happen, we get more worried and we can't remain calm," said Jose Sanchez, a Mexican native living in Los Angeles.

President Donald Trump this week called on the nation to condemn the racism and white supremacy espoused by the El Paso shooter.

"These sinister ideologies must be defeated," Trump said. "Hate has no place in America."

The president did not acknowledge that some of the racist words that police believe the shooter posted online echoed Trump's own words.

In an online manifesto, police say the killer rambled about a "Hispanic invasion of Texas."

Statements made by Trump at previous rallies included, "You look at what's marching up, that's an invasion," and, "Our country's full; we're full."

At a Florida rally in May, Trump said, "How do you stop these people? You can't."

Someone in the crowd yelled "shoot them!" and Trump stopped for a moment then added "That's only in the Panhandle that you can get away with that statement."

The president's words have been criticized for helping to fuel racism, embolden white supremacists and create a climate of fear among the nation's nearly 60 million Latinos.

Back at the scene of the deadliest attack on the Hispanic community in years, the shock and grief are still raw.

"We are being attacked, and our government needs to step in," said resident Christina Carrillo. "If not, the people here will step in."

Others are putting their message in writing. At the ever-growing makeshift memorial, three little girls said they were American citizens and the daughters of Mexican parents.

"We're afraid to go outside," they wrote to the president. "We hope you read this message. God bless you."

Mexico's foreign ministry is asking for information about the shooting to assess the risk of white supremacy to Mexicans living in the U.S.

Copyright 2019 CNN. KVIA, KRQE, News 12 Long Island, WVIR and Getty Images contributed to the report. All rights reserved.