On Saturday morning, a gunman opened fire at a shopping center in El Paso and killed at least 20. The man, who some officials have identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius reportedly used a A.K.-47 style rifle in a Walmart store near the Cielo Vista Mill. As we learn more information about the shooter and the victims, authorities in the Texas city are concerned that some are not going to reunification centers or hospitals because of their immigration status.
“This is a concern,” Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department, told CNN. “It’s clear there’s people who are not unifying with their family and that there are people they’re worried are injured that did not go to hospitals likely because of their immigration status.”
While there aren’t many official reports about whether this is true, the concern isn’t unfounded. Undocumented immigrants try to limit their interactions with police and hospitals for fear they’ll be deported, and this is true even in times of tragedy or natural disasters.
As many express their outrage at the United States’ harsh immigration laws, others, including several lawyers, have offered up their help. Hope Border Institute, which works on the US-Mexico border, addressed this community in a tweet. “If you are afraid to contact the authorities regarding the shooting because of your immigration status, please contact Hope Border Institute and we will help you,” the org tweeted.