There has been a significant increase in crimes against Latinos and immigrants in the U.S. since the El Paso shooting of 2019. The incident is considered one of the deadliest attacks on Latinos in modern U.S. history.

It can be recalled that the El Paso shooting took place on Aug. 3, 2019, when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart store in El Paso and left 23 people dead. Before the massacre, the suspected gunman published a racist screed attacking Latinos and immigrants.

Domingo Garcia, national president for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said the El Paso massacre was proof of the massive discrimination against Latinos in the country. “The attack in El Paso wasn’t just a lone gunman opening fire on those ‘Mexican invaders’ as he called them,” he said. “His actions were part of the larger attack against Latinos in our country being fueled daily by the poison of racial hate.”

According to the 2018 FBI Hate Crime Statistics report, hate crimes targeting Latinos in the U.S. have increased each year since 2015. While bias against Black or African American people comprises the biggest category of reported hate crime offenses in the country, the increase in hate crimes in recent years can be attributed to a national shift in focus from Muslims to Latinos.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the California State University, also said the increasing incidents involving Asians and Blacks in the previous two years does not mean the anti-Latino sentiment is already gone. “We have ticking time bombs across the country and we don’t know who they’re going to hit exactly but we know who they hate,” said Levin.

California State University Professor Phyllis Gerstenfeld said there could be more incidents that remain unknown to authorities because of victims who are not comfortable reporting their experiences to the police. “Hate crimes in general don’t get reported to the police very often, but particularly with some communities of victims,” he said. “Latinos, especially if they’re undocumented or they have poor relationships with police, are not going to report them.”

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center a year before the El Paso shooting showed that about half of Latinos residing in the U.S. had concerns about their situation in America and were worried that they could be deported.

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