Fear after El Paso shootings spreads to Nashville immigrant community

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As Texas looks to prosecute the El Paso shooting as a hate crime, fear among immigrant communities is spreading beyond El Paso to here in Middle Tennessee.

For 15 years, Edgar Mitznauhauatl has called Nashville home.

His construction business, owned and operated by him and his father.

“I feel safe, but in the back of my head, when things like this happen, there’s always going to be that fear that you never know this may happen here,” said Mitznauhauatl.

That fear Mitznauhauatl said comes from immigrants like him with immigration statuses in flux – his roots more than 1,800 miles away in Puebla, Mexico.

“For it to be a hate crime and to be targeted it’s not fair,” said Mitznauhauatl. “We don’t feel safe knowing that there are people out there who have this idea that they need to target us because for some reason we’re different and that’s not right.”

Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus is the Policy Director for the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

“Everyone is afraid now – it’s sent shock waves through the communities wondering, ‘How do you feel safe in America?'” said Sherman-Nikolaus.

The Coalition has been seeing an increase in calls to the organization from area immigrants in fear after the mass shooting.

“When people call and are afraid we tried to reassure them,” said Sherman-Nikolaus.

Sherman-Nikolaus said the first step is for folks to know they are welcome.

Next, comes preparing for the unknown, including knowing their rights and preparing families for the worst-case scenarios.

“Also we help families with family preparedness plans that helps them set up things like who’s going to take care of your child if you’re deported or if you’re unable to care for your child,” said Sherman-Nikolaus.

More info about Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition: https://www.tnimmigrant.org/about

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