Texas Governor Faces Backlash for Anti-Immigrant Email Sent Before El Paso Shooting
Letter from Greg Abbott warns over ‘illegal immigrants’ and says ‘we’ll need to take matters into our own hands’
By Sam Levin
The day before a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern US history, the Texas governor sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter calling on Republicans to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” and “take matters into our own hands”, according to news reports.
The 2 August letter from the governor, Greg Abbott, lamented that in “just three weeks in June, 45,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas!” It continued: “That amounts to the entire population of Galveston – every three weeks. In just six months, we’d add the population of Arlington!”
“If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” Abbott wrote in the mailer, which was reported by the Texas Signal website. The Guardian has seen a redacted copy but not the original document.
The fundraising appeal echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump, who has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants into the US. It also echoed the language in the racist “manifesto” allegedly written by the 21-year-old suspect before he killed 22 people at a Walmart near the US-Mexico border. The suspect, who traveled from a Dallas suburb 600 miles away, said the mass shooting was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” in his hate-filled document.
In the weeks since the massacre, law enforcement officials across the country say they have thwarted similar white supremacist attacks and mass shootings from potential gunmen who espoused far-right and racist viewpoints. In El Paso, which is 80% Latino, residents have said that Trump’s escalating attacks on immigrants and racist campaign speeches have created a climate that encourages this kind of violence.
Abbott and other GOP leaders in Texas have also faced increasing scrutiny over their anti-immigrant language in the wake of the 3 August attack.