LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) released the following statement on the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio:

“MALDEF mourns the loss of so many innocent lives this weekend in El Paso and Dayton.  These tragedies have real, longterm, traumatic consequences for families whose loved ones are senselessly killed.

“At the same time, we challenge congressional leaders to step up and take action; no more of the embarrassing dance so many engage in to avoid blame or responsibility.

“First, our gun control laws must be strengthened immediately.  The Second Amendment does not protect any racist's ability to shoot up a public place.

“Second, congressional leaders must step up and condemn the racist, nativist, anti-Mexican rhetoric of Donald Trump.  It began in 2015 when he launched his campaign with a racist slur against Mexican immigrants.  Trump has never apologized for that slur; instead, he has used the same words to raise money this year for his re-election campaign.  He has unleashed a steady stream of despicable tweets and statements throughout his tenure in the White House.  Those in government who shuffle and squirm to avoid denouncing his statements enable him to inspire white racists to violent, criminal conduct.

“Inhumane policies that treat immigrants, including children, as sub-human also send a message that emboldens violent white nationalists.  These policies — like expedited removal, child incarceration, family separation, inhumane detention conditions, and stay-in-Mexico — have long-term and dangerous consequences for all persons, including citizens, in our nation.

“The silent acquiescence by far too many Republican leaders in presidential racism and nativism must end now.”