They have begun to kill us. That is the conclusion of anyone who has closely followed the chronicle of intimidations specifically targeting immigrants as well as the Hispanic community over the last three years.
One does not have to think too hard about the difficult situation the presidential rhetoric has put us in—immigrants or not, citizens or undocumented—in order to realize that this racial siege has been enclosing upon us evermore, to levels of cruelty previously unheard, as we arrived at this tragic moment with the recent massacre in El Paso, where twenty-two people died, in an attack where the instigator, influenced by presidential anti-immigrant rhetoric, went out in search of “Mexicans” to spray them with bullets.
And all of that with the goal of eradicating the Hispanic culture that has been making its way in this complicated society where nothing is given for free, and which has been exploited left and right, forced to pay taxes and contribute to Social Security, without any guarantee or receiving, at the end of the day, any sort of benefit.
The supremacists of today have tried everything against the Hispanic community, especially against Hispanics of color. From describing its members as criminals, to considering them a “public charge” if they make use of governmental assistance programs, which exist precisely for that reason; from separating children from parents who have come legally to request asylum, to denying them the most basic hygiene products; from threatening to keep them in detention indefinitely, trying to put an end to the Flores Agreement, and even proposing an end to birthright citizenship if the children’s parents are not citizens or have immigrated in an illegal way to the United States. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, however, would be a primary obstacle.
The Spanish language, of course, has not been exempt from this period of intimidations: the most recent attack has to do with a group of Puerto Rican nurses who say they were threatened with dismissal from the clinic where they work in Florida if they do not stop communicating in this language, when they were actually hired because they are bilingual, in order to help patients who prefer to interact in Spanish. According to their complaint, this is part of the discrimination that has grown against Spanish-speaking workers in central Florida.
Add to this the chilling messages from Neo-Nazi and Trump follower Eric Lin, who threatened to exterminate the Hispanic population, “thanking God” every day that Trump is president, trusting that the leader will launch a racial war and crusade to finish it off, saying: “I will stop at nothing until you, your family, your friends, your entire worthless Latin race is racially exterminated.” In his threats, certainly, Lin made no distinction between Latinos based on their political preferences; he referred to all similarly.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of the latent xenophobia found in the United States today. They are situations that, linked together, form a sort of map of hate that has spilled innocent blood at least in Texas, and whose trail continues to be followed as anti-immigrant discourse grows louder in search of the supremacist vote.
In the near term, the White House and the advisors who work there today do not seem inclined to change their strategy of intimidation, while the political class in general seems to just go with the flow in order to gain new reserves of power.
But this moment in U.S. racial history should serve as a red flag to indicate the high level of danger that exists for a community under threat, like Hispanics, and whose enemies continue their stalking, laying in wait for the first opportunity to manifest their hate violently, without caring that at the same time these actions are destroying the social experiment that this country has been, which is now beginning to be diluted in a sewer of racism.
Not realizing that they have begun to kill us is living detached from the maelstrom of hate that official anti-immigrant rhetoric has unleashed. The most worrying thing is that the defense of the physical integrity of our families will have to be added as one more adversity that we have to deal with, in this so recklessly turbulent present.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at America’s Voice and América’s Voice Education Fund.