The shooting in El Paso last weekend was one of the deadliest attacks against Latinos in recent memory. And in the aftermath, President Trump was blamed for encouraging the violence with his inflammatory anti-immigrant language, although he’s dismissed this criticism so far.
We will likely never know how much the El Paso shooter was influenced by rhetoric like Trump’s. But we do know that since Trump took office, surveys and studies have shown that Latinos, particularly Latino immigrants, have become more insecure and fearful about their place in the country.
And the El Paso shooting, which officials are treating as an act of terrorism, seems likely to reinforce and deepen these anxieties. The direct effect of a politician’s words is impossible to measure, but there’s evidence that in addition to creating a general sense of distress, Trump’s words may be fueling prejudice and aggressive behavior against Latinos and other minority groups.