Those who live in El Paso, Texas—a city that lives on the U.S. and Mexico borders—describes their home as a loving place.
“Everybody knows everybody, seems that way,” says resident Ruben Vuentes.
Vuentes says the people of El Paso are not close-minded. Resident Alicia Brown shares the same sentiment. She says she’s never felt out of place because of the color of her skin.
“There’s no racism here,” she says. “I don’t feel it. I’ve never felt it in all my life.”
Now, those living in the close-knit community are trying to heal after a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens of others Saturday at a local Walmart. Police say the 21-year-old white, male suspect is believed to be the author of a racist, anti-Hispanic 2,300-word document found online. Police say the manifesto was filled with white nationalist language and blamed immigrants for taking away jobs.
El Paso has found itself at the center of the Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration due to its proximity to the border.
Marisa Limon Garza with the Hope Border Institute says the community is family and that include El Pasoans and Mexican nationals, just across the border in Juarez.
“These border lands, these fences, these structures, are things that were imposed on us,” she says. But this has been a binational community for so long, and it’s one we find great beauty in.”
It’s a melting pot of immigrants and Mexican nationals, and the community sees it as an asset.
“This city is surviving because of the people coming from Juarez, says Brown.
“What people don’t realize is they are part of this economy. The people that were at Walmart, they were shopping for clothes, school supplies, just like all of us.”
Brown says when the shooting happened, she did worry the community—this family—might have been shattered. But that isn’t the case.
“Because really, he didn’t; he brought us together. He united us,” Brown says of the shooter.