Republican Immigration Lawyer Says Clients Have Told Him 'We're the New Jews' After El Paso Attack

A Mexican-American immigration lawyer has said many of his clients tell him they feel like "the new Jews," in a bleak comparison of the way that immigrants are being treated in the U.S. and at the border to the way Jewish people were treated in the lead-up to the Holocaust.

"Many clients tell me, 'We're the new Jews, we're just like the Jews,'" Dario Aguirre, 64, who is a registered Republican, told The New York Times in a recent interview.

Asked to expand on his comments by Newsweek, Aguirre, who is based in Denver after having moved from Tijuana in Mexico to San Diego with his family as a child, said that many of his clients "feel persecuted in the sense that there is a new 'other.'"

"It's never been just so raw and blatant, at least not in my memory," Aguirre said.

The immigration lawyer's comments came in the wake of Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which is being investigated as a domestic terrorism case.

The suspect in the shooting, which unfolded at a Walmart and left 22 people dead, is believed to have penned a manifesto on the website 8chan railing against Hispanic and immigrant community members in the lead-up to the attack.

For Latinos, Aguirre said, the impact of the killings in El Paso represents "the death of the American dream."

The comparison of the current rhetoric around and treatment of immigrants in the U.S. and at the border to the rhetoric and treatment of Jewish people in the lead-up to and during the Holocaust is far from new, with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez having sparking international debate after she branded migrant detention centers in the U.S. "concentration camps."

Since then, many high-profile voices have joined in agreement with Ocasio-Cortez, including a chorus of academics who have agreed with the New York representative that migrant detention centers "fit squarely in an academic consensus and definition" of a concentration camp.

Rachel Ida Buff, a professor of American studies who teaches history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told Newsweek in June that Ocasio-Cortez's description was "absolutely" correct.

"All asylum seekers crossing into the United States are placed in 'hileras,' cells chilled to 50-55 degrees. They are stripped of warm clothing. Many get sick; several have died. This is torture and life endangerment," Buff further added. The trauma that detained children, she said "threatens to disable a generation."

Meanwhile, sociology professor Richard Lachmann at the University at Albany, SUNY, agreed, clarifying that "concentration camps are any place where large numbers of people are held in poor conditions because of their nationality, ethnicity, religion or other characteristics rather than as individuals convicted of crimes."

Some organizations have spoken out to condemn the comparison, however, with The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York asserting that while it was concerned about "the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States," it was "deeply disturbed" by the use of the term "concentration camps" to describe facilities at the border.

Jonathan Greenblatt of The Anti-Defamation League cautioned against drawing comparisons between the treatment of immigrants in the U.S. and at the border and the Holocaust, asserting that instead of trying to link the two, people should be focusing on condemning "morally abhorrent actions" on the whole.

El Paso
People pray and pay their respects at the makeshift memorial for victims of the shooting that left a total of 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 6, 2019. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty