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Congresswoman Escobar Leads Letter to DOJ to Investigate Migrant Shooting in West Texas as a Hate Crime

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the shooting of Jesús Sepúlveda Martinez and Berenice Casias Carrillo, two undocumented immigrants, in West Texas as a hate crime.  

The letter, signed by 15 additional Members, comes as racist, hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric dehumanizing migrants continues to be used to describe the increased migrant arrivals at our southern border.  

“We write to you today to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the horrific, unprompted shooting of two undocumented immigrants in West Texas as a hate crime,” began the lawmakers. “On the evening of Tuesday September 27, 2022, two undocumented migrants were shot, one fatally, along a roadway.”

The lawmakers continued, “Though it remains unclear which of the two brothers shot at the migrants, both Sheppard brothers have been arrested and charged with manslaughter. Further investigation into the Sheppards reveals that Michael Sheppard is a former warden at the Sierra Blanca ICE detention facility in West Texas and has a documented history of abusive and racist behavior toward people in his custody.” 

“This attack on a group of migrants stopping for a water break is just the most recent manifestation of the rising racist and xenophobic sentiment for those who have come to the United States seeking a better life,” the lawmakers added. 

They continued, “This attack also comes at a time when once-fringe white supremacist propaganda is being embraced and regurgitated by Republican leadership, boosting resentment, hatred, and, in this case, violence against migrants.” 

“We understand that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is aiding the investigation into this incident. We urge the Department to take concrete steps to ensure that this incident is investigated as a hate crime, especially considering Michael Sheppard’s history of racism and abuse toward immigrants,” the lawmakers concluded. 

The letter was also co-signed by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Henry “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), André Carson (IN-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Al Green (TX-09), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Suzanna Bonamici (OR-01), Cori Bush (MO-01), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), and Raul Ruiz (CA-36).  

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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