As President Donald Trump prepares to visit El Paso, TX, the border town residents have been signing their names to an online letter telling Trump in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome in their city after their Mayor, Dee Margo, announced that the U.S. leader would likely be visiting on Wednesday in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting.
Drafted by immigration advocacy group Border Network For Human Rights, the letter asks Trump to “stay away” from El Paso, before blaming his “rhetoric” and “actions” for having “led us to this terrible moment.”
“We, the undersigned, organizations and individuals who make El Paso and Southern New Mexico our home, and our friends and allies across this great land, send you this letter in the hope that, in the aftermath of this heinous crime, you will NOT come to El Paso, our home,” the letter begins.
“This is a time of intense grief and mourning, and we appreciate the impulse to comfort the kin of those killed and wounded—however, your presence would bring no comfort, no respite from the pain so brutally and callously imposed upon us. We ask, instead, for your absence. We say this because we recognize that it is your rhetoric and your actions that led us to this terrible moment. This shooter was inspired by your words and your attitudes.”
The letter comes as Trump continues to face backlash over his anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric after it emerged that the suspect in the El Paso shooting, which has so far seen 22 people dead, is believed to have posted a manifesto on the website 8chan railing against Texas’ Hispanic and immigrant communities in the lead-up to the attack.
As it has been widely reported, the suspect used language that has been employed in Trump’s own rhetoric, including referring to the presence of Hispanics in Texas as “invasion”—a word that the president repeatedly used to describe the arrival of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In their letter, El Paso residents tell Trump that his “portrayal of asylum seekers as an ‘invasion,’ of Mexicans as ‘rapists and criminals,’ of unauthorized immigrants as ‘animals,’ your constant reliance on sowing hatred and fear, your embrace of racism and white supremacy, all of this over these past years has brought us to this place of pain.”
“Given this history of hate on your part, we ask that you stay away. In the meantime, we will lament this loss—the 22 dead and 24 wounded, our mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends—without you. This is for the best.”
The letter adds: “We hope you will have the grace and humility to ask for our community’s forgiveness,” they say, adding: “We hope that following this horror we will never again hear the racist, xenophobic, and hateful language that has marked your presidency.”