Ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned visit to El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed by a gunman who may have shared a white supremacist manifesto just before his attack, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) recommended Monday that the commander-in-chief stay away.
“From my perspective, he is not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning,” the congresswoman, whose district includes most of El Paso, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I would encourage the president’s staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies because we’re not going to get past this until there is acknowledgement from the very top that we need to heal, that this whole country is hurting, that there has been bigotry and racism and hatred that has been stoked at all levels.”
“He’s helped to produce the suffering that we are experiencing right now. This community needs to heal.”
Shortly before the shooting began at a Walmart on Saturday, a four-page screed allegedly written by the suspected shooter ― a 21-year-old white male ― was shared on 8chan, an online message board where extremism thrives.
The racist document railed against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” warning against “race-mixing” and calling immigrants “instigators.”
“I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion,” it says.
Over the weekend, numerous Democratic presidential candidates argued the bloodshed was a product of Trump’s own racism and xenophobia, which has been flaunted at rallies and on Twitter.
Escobar echoed their condemnations.
“Words have consequences, and the president has made my community and my people the enemy,” she said. “He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated.”
The president’s history of bigoted and dangerous rhetoric is now receiving renewed scrutiny, particularly a joke he made at a recent rally in response to a supporter encouraging violence against immigrants.
While decrying immigration at a May campaign event in Florida, Trump called it an “invasion,” asking the audience, “How do you stop these people?”
“Shoot them,” one attendee shouted.
Laughing, Trump said it’s “only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement.”
In February, during his State of the Union address, Trump erroneously claimed that before his southern border wall was built, El Paso was one of the nation’s “most dangerous cities,” marked by an “extremely high” crime rate. Federal data disproves those statements, showing the city was never highly dangerous to begin with, and that the wall did not drive down crime.
On Sunday, Escobar told ABC News’ “This Week” that she felt the shooting’s location was not randomly chosen, noting that her city “is a binational community where we are one region separated by a river but where we share family roots, history, tradition, economies, in many respects. The fact that this store was targeted I believe was not coincidental.”
Though the president called on the country to “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” on Monday, he made no mention of his role in encouraging all three, and did not discuss potential gun control measures.
Authorities are treating the shooting as a terrorist act and will seek federal hate crime charges against the gunman.