House Passes Congresswoman Escobar’s Bill to Designate the El Paso Community Healing Garden as a National Memorial
Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar issued the following remarks on the House Floor preceding passage of H.R. 4380, the El Paso Community Healing Garden Act. The bill passed today with overwhelming bipartisan support and is now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate before it is signed into law by President Biden:
“Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong and enthusiastic support of my bill, H.R. 4380, the El Paso Community Healing Garden National Memorial Act.
“My bill will designate the El Paso Healing Garden at Ascarate Park in El Paso, Texas as a National Memorial and help ensure our country honors the 23 innocent lives we lost in the attack on El Paso on August 3rd, 2019.
“I rise today for my legislation, but also rise in memory of the 23 souls who were killed by a domestic terrorist. I rise for the 22 other victims who were injured in the attack. And I rise for their loved ones – their families, friends, and for an entire community rocked by white supremacy.
“On the morning of Saturday August 3rd, 2019, a 21-year-old gunman drove more than 11 hours and hundreds of miles to get to El Paso. He used an AK-47 and opened fire at a busy Wal Mart while families were shopping for groceries and school supplies. He killed couples, grandparents, siblings, new parents; his youngest victim was just 15 years old. It was the deadliest targeted attack on Latinos in modern American history.
“The weapon he used wasn’t just intended to kill – an AK-47 rips flesh, bones and arteries to shreds. Most of the survivors from the attack don’t just live with unbelievable physical agony, they also have to shoulder the financial consequences of ongoing surgeries and medical care.
“When he turned himself in, the domestic terrorist confessed to police that he drove to El Paso to slaughter Mexicans and immigrants. He published a screed online just before the massacre, and in it, he cited the anti-immigrant Great Replacement theory and xenophobic hate speech, claiming that he was combatting what he called the ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas’.
“This is the same language, the same theories, the same hate and racism that we still hear today from right-wing public figures, and the former President, whose favorite scapegoats are still vulnerable immigrants.
“These people should have seen that their words have power. Unfortunately, however, instead of learning from this tragedy, racists and white supremacists have grown more emboldened. And why wouldn’t they be? They are radicalized nightly by a national media outlet disguised as ‘news’ that runs unchecked, their talking points openly parroted by leaders here, in the halls of Congress.
“Our safe, loving, welcoming community, a community of good will, is seen as a threat by people with hate in their heart. And the language of hate draws a target on the backs of the most vulnerable. And on August 3rd, El Paso paid the price.
“El Pasoans, however, came together in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and we did what we do best: take care of each other, stand united, stand in love. We represent the best of America, and El Pasoans continue to be a source of great hope for me.
“El Paso is strong. We are resilient, but we deserve justice and recognition.
“I am honored to help ensure that what happened in El Paso is not forgotten - not anywhere, not in any corner of our country. That we remember every victim and work to prevent more tragedy.
“I would like to close my time by sharing the names of the victims:
André Pablo Anchondo
Jordan Kae Anchondo
Jorge Calvillo Garcia
Leonardo Campos Jr.
Adolfo Cerros Hernández
Sara Esther Regalado Monreal
Guillermo "Coach Memo" Garcia
Angelina Silva Englisbee
Maria Muñoz Flores
Raul Estrada Flores
Gerhard Alexander Hoffmann
David Alvah Johnson
Luis Alfonso Juarez
Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe
Gloria Irma Marquez
Elsa L. Mendoza
Javier Amir Rodriguez
Teresa Trinidad Sanchez Guerra, and
Juan De Dios Velazquez”