El Paso shooting: Some victims too scared to seek medical help for ‘fear over immigration status’

Worries over going to hospital ‘because you run the chance of being permanently separated from your family shouldn’t have to be anyone’s reality’

Jane Dalton
Sunday 04 August 2019 14:13 BST
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People hug at a vigil for victims of the shootings, which left 20 people dead and dozens wounded
People hug at a vigil for victims of the shootings, which left 20 people dead and dozens wounded (Getty Images)

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Some of the victims of the El Paso Walmart mass shooting avoided seeking medical treatment because they were worried about their immigration status, it is feared.

Three weeks ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials carried out mass raids on the homes of migrants in a crackdown by Donald Trump on those in the country without documentation.

Juliette Kayyem, formerly of the Homeland Security Department, told CNN: “This is a concern.

“It’s clear that there are people not unifying with their family and that there are people who are worried or injured that did not go to hospitals likely because of their immigration status.

“That’s something El Paso should probably get ahead on.”

Authorities say they are investigating the massacre at the Texas border city supermarket as a race-hate crime. Three Mexicans were among the 20 dead.

Border Patrol officials have tried to assure people that no enforcement operations will be carried out at hospitals, the family reunification centre or shelters.

Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), added: “El Paso is a home to many DHS law enforcement agents and officers. We join them in support for their families and communities at large.”

Many people said they were sceptical of Border Patrol’s assurances, accusing officials of “inhumanity”.

“I keep thinking about the undocu folk in El Paso that didn’t seek medical assistance due to their immigration status,” one posted.

“Fear of going to the hospital because you run the chance of being permanently separated from your family shouldn’t have to be anyone’s reality.”

Greg Allen, El Paso police chief, said authorities were now working to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online shortly before the shootings was written by the suspect.

Patrick Crusius, 21, is said to have driven more than 1,000km from his home in Dallas to commit the atrocity.

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Tens of thousands of central American migrant families cross the border each month, many claiming asylum.

The numbers have increased despite Mr Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

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