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Gov. Greg Abbott prompts swift rebukes after calling Texas mass shooting victims ‘illegal immigrants’ in a statement offering condolences to their loved ones

Greg AbbottGovernor Greg Abbott speaks at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Dallas, Friday, May 4, 2018.

Sue Ogrocki/AP

  • Authorities are searching for the shooter who killed 5 people in a Cleveland, Texas, home on Friday.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott announced a reward for information and offered condolences to the victims.
  • But the governor is getting criticized for identifying the victims as “illegal immigrants.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is getting criticized for identifying the victims of a Friday mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, as “illegal immigrants” in the same statement in which he offered condolences to their loved ones.

On Friday evening, a drunk man shot and killed five people, including an 8-year-old boy, after the neighbors asked the man to stop firing his AR-15-style weapon in the air, according to San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers.

Abbott released a statement on Sunday offering a $50,000 reward for information regarding the shooter, who authorities say “could be anywhere” by now. The governor also offered condolences to the families, but not before the statement identified the victims as “illegal immigrants.”

Police identified the victims as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8. Authorities have not publicly disclosed the victims’ citizenship status.

“Governor Greg Abbott today announced a $50,000 reward for a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) top 10 fugitive who is in the country illegally and killed give illegal immigrants in a shooting Friday night in Cleveland, Texas,” a statement from Abbott’s personal Twitter account said.

—Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 30, 2023

Actors, former politicians, and immigration rights organizations quickly denounced Abbott’s statement.

“This is despicable. I would have thought bringing up the immigration status of the innocent victims of this senseless violence would be beneath even you. But I was wrong,” George Takei, the “Star Trek” actor who lived with his parents in internment camps during World War II, wrote on Twitter.

—George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) April 30, 2023

“Five human beings lost their lives and Greg Abbott insists on labeling them ‘illegal immigrants,'” Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, said.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center said Abbott’s statement included “dehumanizing anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

A San Jacinto County Sheriffs’ spokesperson said the agency could not release further information. A spokesperson for Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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