Some victims of the mass shooting in El Paso reportedly drove themselves home rather than go to hospitals for fear that they could be targeted for arrest by ICE agents.
In the wake of the deadly shooting outside a Walmart shopping plaza that claimed the lives of at least 20 people, authorities raised concerns that some victims were afraid to seek medical treatment for wounds suffered during the attack. Reports indicated that several Mexican nationals were among those killed in the border city.
“This is a concern,” Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department, told CNN. “It’s clear there’s people who are not unifying with their family and that there are people they’re worried are injured that did not go to hospitals likely because of their immigration status.”
Kayyem noted that El Paso officials stressed that there would be no ICE agents at either hospitals or unification sites set up as safe places for families to find and connect with survivors of the deadly shooting.
ICE agents in El Paso have come under fire in the past for what critics say are heavy-handed tactics toward undocumented immigrants. As the El Paso Times reported, ICE agents were criticized in 2017 when they went to an El Paso County court room and arrested an undocumented woman who had received a protective order claiming that she was a victim of domestic violence.
The report noted that ICE agents detained the woman after receiving a tip, which may have actually come from the woman’s alleged abuser.
CNN reports that local officials in El Paso believe some mass shooting victims didn’t seek medical treatment because of their immigration status. America is in dire shape. pic.twitter.com/E68hiCN5H2— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 3, 2019
El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said the arrest was alarming would would scare undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence from going to authorities, forcing them to stay with their abusers for fear of being deported. Immigrant advocacy groups have also pushed back against arrests of undocumented immigrants in court rooms, saying it makes it difficult for prosecutors who may have to rely on them as witnesses.
.@oneunderscore__ — who I trust on these matters — says the anti-immigrant manifesto currently circulating online was posted on 8chan hours before today’s shooting in El Paso.— Matt Pearce ???? (@mattdpearce) August 3, 2019
If authentic, that would make today’s shooting an act of domestic terrorism. https://t.co/Mm9yzk6Jdc
An alleged manifesto posted online before the El Paso shooting may indicate that Hispanics were targeted in the attack. The multi-page document said that “Hispanic invaders” were the motivation for the deadly attack, and railed against immigration. Though the manifesto has not been confirmed to have been written by the alleged shooter, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen spoke about the manifesto and said it presented a “nexus to a potential hate crime,” CNN reported.