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Did Trump's rhetoric influence the shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso? Hispanic voters believe so

A month after the massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, almost 70% of registered Hispanic voters think that the president’s language had something – or a lot - to do with the tragedy.
10 Sep 2019 – 11:28 AM EDT
Rene Aguilar and Jackie Flores pray at a makeshift memorial for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, August 4, 2019. Crédito: Andres Leighton/AP

On August 3, Patrick Crusius, 21, killed 22 people in a supermarket in El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican border. Crusius was arrested by the police and confessed that he was looking to kill Mexicans.

The massacre generated a great debate about the impact of President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and the exacerbation of racial tensions in the United States.

A Univision News poll found that 46% of Hispanic registered voters think that the president's language in his speeches and tweets had "a lot" to do with the massacre. An additional 23% think it contributed “a good amount."

A very similar percentage (74% in total) think that the empowerment of white supremacists, and white nationalists in general, undoubtedly influenced the attack. They also attribute a great responsibility to the lack of effective treatment of mental illnesses and to the fact that people can freely buy assault and military weapons.

The national poll by Univision News, conducted with the support of Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion, measured presidential preferences in this election cycle, taking a representative sample of Hispanics registered to vote, and also inquiring about current issues such as the El Paso massacre.

With the collaboration of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston, the poll also included a sample of voters in all races in the state of Texas, where the third debate will take place this week between Democratic candidates, conducted by Univision and ABC News.

The overall population of the state is more conservative than that of Hispanics, by and large. However, in the case of the El Paso massacre it also attributes responsibility to the president's speech and to the empowerment of supremacist groups (56% in the first case and 61% in the second).

A good proportion of respondents believe that since Trump took office racial relations in the United States have worsened (64% in the national Hispanic voter sample and 49% among Texans in general).

Hence, it is no surprise that more than 80% of Hispanics, and 71% of Texans in general, are concerned about the possibility of another mass shooting like El Paso by white nationalists against targets selected for their skin color or country of origin.

Nor is it a surprise that about 90% of respondents, in all cases, consider that Congress should pass a law to increase background checks for the sale of weapons, granting authorities the power to temporarily remove weapons from persons who represent a danger to citizens, and that prohibits the sale of assault weapons such as AR-15 rifles.