More than 200 Latino activists, entertainers and community leaders — including actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria — have written a public letter to their “Familia Latina,” consoling them in the wake of targeted mass shootings and ICE raids, and urging allies to “speak out loudly against hate.”
Friday’s letter comes less than two weeks after a gunman stormed an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on August 3, killing 22 people. The shooter told police he was targeting Mexicans, and many of the dead had Latino last names. Eight victims were Mexican nationals.
Just a few days later, on August 7, hundreds of employees at seven worksites across Mississippi were swept up in the largest immigration raid in at least a decade.
Ferrera, best known for her roles on Ugly Betty and Superstore, tells TIME the recent news has impacted her deeply.
“As a Latina child of immigrants, it’s incredibly personal to me that the Latino immigrant population has been targeted,” says Ferrera, whose parents emigrated from Honduras. “But also, as an American, I fear for what we have coming.”
The letter, which is also signed by notables including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rosario Dawson, Salma Hayek Pinault, Ricky Martin and many others, states: “If you are feeling terrified, heartbroken and defeated by the barrage of attacks on our community, you are not alone.”
It goes on: “The indignities and cruelty we have endured will never change the truth that the contributions we make to this country are invaluable. Our humanity must be respected. And, we won’t stop organizing for ourselves, our children, and for the soul of this nation.”
Ferrera says that when she first heard about the mass shooting in El Paso, her first response was, “‘Oh God, another one.’ It’s so often. It’s so frequent that our natural response is to become numb to it.”
Too many people are afraid to go to school, work and church, Ferrera says.
Read the full text of the letter below:
If you are feeling terrified, heartbroken and defeated by the barrage of attacks on our community, you are not alone.
We have been smeared by political rhetoric and murdered in violent hate crimes.
We have been separated from our families and have watched our children caged.
We have been targeted with mass shootings and mass ICE raids meant to terrify us, squash our hope and break our spirits.
But, we will not be broken. We will not be silenced. We will continue to denounce any hateful and inhumane treatment of our community. We will demand dignity and justice.
Though real pain and fear are sweeping through our communities, we remain powerful.
The indignities and cruelty we have endured will never change the truth that the contributions we make to this country are invaluable. Our humanity must be respected. And, we won’t stop organizing for ourselves, our children, and for the soul of this nation.
To our allies who feel our community’s pain, we need you. We cannot make change without your voices and action. We call on you to speak loudly against hate, to contribute your resources to organizations that support our community, and to hold our leaders accountable.
We ask you to join us in building a better country where we are all safe and valued.
May we turn this time of despair into a time of action. May our love for one another be the guiding light in these dark times.