‘Tell him not to come here’

Miguel de Anda, born and raised in El Paso, holds a sign reading 'Trump Not Welcome Here' at an Aug. 7, 2019, protest against President Trump's visit following a mass shooting, which left at least 22 people dead. Photo by Mario Tama | Getty Images

In the days and weeks following the implementation of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, the infamous “show us your papers” law, I took to telling almost anyone who would listen, especially people with power and influence: “My people are being hunted.”

By “my people,” I meant the undocumented immigrants who were the main target of the now notorious 2010 bill – but it was also a reference to the state’s fast-growing Latino community.

Not long after the bill was signed into law, my then 7-year-old daughter, a U.S. citizen, asked: “Daddy, are we going to get arrested?”

The law’s main champions were Senate President Russell Pearce and Gov. Jan Brewer, both Republicans, though Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio was more than happy to handle the dirty work of rounding up immigrants, and even a U.S. citizen from time to time, by mounting random raids and roadblocks.

The goal of SB1070 was to get undocumented immigrants to flee the state, or else face the risk of arrest and deportation. Tens of thousands did leave, some waiting only as long as it took for their children to finish school year that year.

Fast forward to Saturday’s mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, and the legally sanctioned right-wing bigotry inspired by SB1070 has mutated into an act of domestic terror that one overseas newspaper this week described as the “greatest racist crime against Hispanics in modern United States history.”

The man who wielded the semi-automatic rifle that left 22 people dead, nearly all Latino, and more than two dozen others wounded surrendered to police, but our racist-in-chief, President Trump, seems determined to pour salt onto the Texas bordertown’s fresh wounds instead of filling the traditional role of comforting the city and the nation.

The president traveled to El Paso today, after a stopover in Dayton, Ohio, where a separate mass shooting on Sunday at a popular entertainment district left 10 dead, including the alleged killer, and 27 others wounded.

Community leaders and average citizens in both cities have made clear to Trump that his visits are not welcomed. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Trump’s hateful rhetoric since taking office “has been painful for many in our community.” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, agreed to meet with Trump, but promised to tell the president what he thinks of his racially divisive policies and rhetoric.

In El Paso, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar rejected an invitation by the White House to join Trump on his visit there. She said Trump’s repeated verbal attacks against immigrants and Hispanics, dating back to the first day of his campaign when he called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, were partly to blame for the bloody massacre in her hometown.

A hate-filled screed posted online by the El Paso shooter warned of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and featured other racial epithets. Trump has repeatedly characterized the arrival of immigrants at the border as an “invasion” – and continues to do so in campaign ads. He has also falsely claimed that El Paso is “one of the most dangerous cities in the country.” A study released in April found the city was one of the top 10 safest in the nation, at least until Saturday’s massacre.

In May, at a campaign rally in Florida, Trump asked a crowd of  raucous supporters, “How do you stop these people? You can’t, there’s —” A video of the speech shows Trump stopped himself as someone in the crowd yelled, “Shoot them!” 

In the video, we see the president pause, then crack a joke at the suggestion of violence as a solution: “That’s only in the [Florida] Panhandle can you get away with that statement.”

As the crowd cheered wildly, Trump stood basking in the applause for several seconds before continuing his remarks.

Escobar told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Tuesday that one of the people wounded in the rampage took her by the arm during a recent hospital visit and said, referring to the president, “Tell him not to come here.”

The president, of course, did visit Dayton and El Paso, because he doesn’t give a damn what the good people of these shattered communities want or need.

For Trump, it’s always about Trump. 

The visit to Dayton is about letting the president’s supporters nationwide know that he has their back in the face of widespread criticism that he is making divisive racial politics a key pillar of his 2020 re-election campaign.

The president’s trip to El Paso is his way of sticking a thumb in the eye of the city’s Democratic-leaning Hispanic population, Mayor Margo, a regular critic of the president’s, and anyone who suggests that his racist rhetoric could have played a role in the shooter’s actions.

The grotesque irony of the shooting in El Paso is that Trump has been claiming since the launch of his presidential campaign that the only way to keep America safe from the people he often characterizes as murderous and marauding immigrant hordes is to build a “great, great wall.”

Yet, a U.S. citizen, spouting anti-Latino rhetoric virtually identical to what Trump says and weiding a weapon designed to kill as many human beings as possible as quickly as possible, drove 10 hours to El Paso from his home in Allen, Texas to hunt and murder 22 innocent people.

And the nearly 17,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents and almost 700 miles of existing barriers stretched along the U.S.-Mexico border, including in El Paso, couldn’t do a damned thing to stop him.

James E. Garcia
James E. Garcia is a Phoenix-based journalist, playwright and communications consultant. He is the editor and publisher of Vanguardia Arizona, which covers Latino news statewide, and the weekly newsletter Vanguardia America. As a journalist, he has worked as a reporter, columnist, editor and foreign correspondent. He was the first Latino Affairs correspondent for KJZZ, and the first Latino editor of major progressive news weekly in the U.S., The San Antonio Current. James has taught writing, ethnic studies, theater and Latino politics at ASU. He is the producing artistic director of New Carpa Theater Co. and the author of more than 30 plays.


  1. President Trump is welcome….you leave Miguel……

    Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

    * City emergency services Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers also pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications.. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

    *Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. It is estimated nearly 100,000 illegal aliens graduate each year……you do the math. School class size are also negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

    *Taxpayers in some states are funding “in state college tuition” discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

    *About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, & more than 90% of those are in the U.S illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system.

    *$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches.

    *Mexico received 33 billion last year in remittance from our country. $120 billion total was sent out of the United States in total remittance last year.

    *Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

    * Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens & their families in poverty in many cases wait years behind non citizens for emergency housing.

  2. Calling our President “Racist in Chief” is somehow not considered hate speech or irresponsible unacceptable rhetoric, while enforcing deportation orders from judges AFTER a hearing makes this President a racist. Worse, Barack Obama deported the most ILLEGAL immigrants, and is given the Nobel Peace Prize. A whole new level of double standards and biased radical reporting. Try something new – journalism. Newspapers COULD possibly survive if they returned to the fine traditions of the fourth estate. Printing articles like this makes The New Times seem respectable in comparison.

  3. The “Prez” said the visits would not be a photo op but that is what it turned into when he got to El Paso. He should have stayed in D.C. but no one wants him there either.

  4. Thanks for the “Fox News” and Republican talking points, guys. This was an opinion posting and while you have yours, Mr. Garcia is able to have his , which I completely agree with.


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