El Paso shooting victims avoiding hospitals, fearing immigration authorities


US immigration authorities are encouraging victims of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, to seek medical treatment among reports that some are avoiding hospitals, worried about their immigration status.

US immigration authorities are assuring victims of Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that they are not conducting enforcement operations at hospitals, reunification centres and shelters.

Following the shooting at a local Walmart, fears arose that some of the victims were avoiding seeking medical treatment because they were worried about their immigration status.

Customs and Border Protection’s West Texas office said they were not conducting operations in the wake of the attack.

“We stand in support of our community,” they said.

El Paso is situated on the US border with Mexico, and more than eight in 10 residents are of Hispanic descent.

Eight of the 22 people killed in the shooting are Mexican nationals.

Local police are calling the attack a ‘hate crime’ after discovering the alleged shooter’s manifesto online.

National security analyst Juliette Kayyem told CNN victims avoiding hospitals in the wake of the shooting was a concern for local authorities. 

“It is clear that these people are not reuniting with their family and that there are people who are worried or injured that did not go to hospitals likely because of their immigration status,” she said.

For those still sceptical about the intentions of authorities, immigration lawyers have offered their services, encouraging people to seek medical treatment.

The Hope Border Institute also encouraged victims to get in contact if they were fearful of authorities. 

Deputy director Marisa Limón Garcia said the organisation had received phone calls from people who were looking for family members but didn’t want to go to the police.

“If you are undocumented or of a mixed-status household, the last place you want to go is where there is a tremendous amount of police presence,” she said.

US President Donald Trump condemned white supremacy, and offered his condolences to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in a speech on Monday.

But El Paso residents say they’re disappointed, but not surprised, he didn’t mention the local Hispanic or Latino communities.

El Paso artist and restaurant manager Jeramey Maynard said he thought President Trump had chosen his words carefully.

“He’s been having these racist comments,” 26-year-old Maynard told NBC news.

“When it comes time to defend the community, of course we are not going to hear him say anything about the Hispanic community.”

El Paso state representative Cesar Blanco said it was ‘telling’ that Mr Trump had failed to mention the Hispanic community.

“We’ve got dead bodies,” he said.

“The majority are Hispanic. Some are foreign nationals from Mexico and we’ve got a manifesto describing what he wants to do and why.”

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