Hate crimes have risen steadily since 2016, and Latinos say they feel vulnerable: It rattles you at your core
The first time someone called Lidia Carrillo a wetback she had to ask her teacher what the slur meant. She was only 13, and had recently moved to California from Jalisco, Mexico, with her parents and six siblings.
Carrillo had tried to explain that her family hadnt crossed any river, but it didnt matter. They looked at us differently, she recalled.
Carrillo, who is now 44 and works for a commercial loan company, would never forget the remark. It stung, as did the sideways glances at her worn white sneakers and the grocery bag in which she carried her textbooks. It was difficult then, Carrillo says. But she doesnt remember feeling scared, not like she is today, eight weeks after 22 people were killed in the worst hate crime against Latinos in modern US history.
Every day when I take my daughter to school we pray. I ask God to protect her, Carrillo said I dont know if Im going to see my daughter or my husband at the end of the day.
For Carrillo and manyLatinos across the US, the August violence in El Paso, wrought by a gunman who intended to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, marked a day they long feared would come. The killings came less than a week after a gunman, who had previously complained about hordes of mestizos, shot three people at a food festival in Gilroy, California. And they followed years of belligerent rhetoric by Donald Trump, who launched his presidential campaign in 2015 by calling Mexicans rapists and has directed his administrationto crack down on undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.