EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A member of Congress whose community was stunned by an alleged racially-motivated mass shooting three years ago is calling for a federal investigation of Tuesday night’s shooting of two migrants near Sierra Blanca, Texas.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents El Paso, said she’s waiting to learn the facts about the shooting that left a male migrant dead and a female migrant wounded, but she is worried about a possible hate crime.
“I hope the Department of Justice investigates this as a hate crime. This is something that many of us feared would happen because we have so many Republican politicians who are always talking about migrants in hateful terms to scare people, to scare the country, to portray migrants as criminals,” Escobar said Friday in a Zoom call with reporters.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said it arrested two men on manslaughter charges for the Sept. 27 shooting of the migrants along Farm-to-Market Road 1111 some 4 miles south of Sierra Blanca, a Far West Texas community known for a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10.
DPS said the men were in a truck, pulled over and shot at a group of undocumented migrants standing alongside the road getting water. The state police has not identified the suspects; media reports and jail records show them to be Mark and Mike Sheppard, two Hudspeth County residents.
Authorities have not addressed a motive for the shooting. The New York Times reported one of the suspects told investigators he and his brother were hunting for animals and thought they spotted a javelina.
But numerous migrant advocates worry about frustration over historic migration levels and conservative politicians exploiting such frustration and distorting facts are fanning the flames of hate against immigrants.
Escobar says she has warned some of her House colleagues on the GOP that “words have power” and can bring about consequences.
“Republican politicians are using words and descriptions that motivate people who harbor hate in their hearts. Things are very dangerous now,” Escobar said. “I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate a possible hate crime […] if we don’t get justice in these cases, I fear we will see more violence against migrants and communities with lots of immigrants.”