On Aug. 3, 2019, a “white supremacist” Texan armed with an AK-47 assault weapon and several thousand rounds of hollow-point bullets left the supposed comfort of his hometown Allen, where European Americans are 55 percent of the population, and drove for 10 hours to El Paso, where Mexicans are about 80 percent of the residents. On arriving, he opened fire in a Walmart store, killing 22 people, 19 of them of Latino descent.

Luis Alfonso Juarez, 90, who immigrated from Mexico, was an iron worker for many years who became a U.S. citizen. He and his wife Martha of 70 years raised seven children and the family expanded to 20 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren. The couple was grocery-shopping when the killer struck. “Don’t be afraid,” Luis told Martha. She survived but her husband, who, his family said, “lived the American dream,” did not.

“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the killer, Patrick Wood Crusius, 21, proclaimed in an online statement. “They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion.”

Luis and Martha’s daughter Meg Juarez had an opportunity to confront the killer during a sentencing hearing last July. “Native Americans and Mexicans were already here before your American settler homies rolled in,” she told him. “Think about that when you say you’re defending your country.”

Indeed, more than 50 Indigenous tribes, along with Mexicans, lived in the 265,596-square-mile territory long before European Americans arrived seeking religious freedom that turned into genocidal greed for land. What was the provincial de Tejas became part of the Mexican Empire in 1821 and declared itself a republic in 1836. Its petition to join the United States was stalled for nearly 10 years — because of disagreement over ending slavery.

European Americans were for a long time the majority group but the 2020 Census showed that they are now 39.8 percent of the population and a minority for the first time since 1850. Latinos are 40 percent and African Americans 12 percent, for a combined 52 percent. That history and the changing population demographic have had little impact on the European American stranglehold on the state and certainly not on its attitude towards refugees and other would-be immigrants who look like the now overall majority.

“Wrecking ball-sized buoys on the Rio Grande. Razor wire strung across private property without permission. Bulldozers changing the very terrain of America’s southern border,” The Associated Press reported in July 2023 on measures to keep them away.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been “pushing legal boundaries with a go-it-alone bravado along the state’s 1,200-mile border” to create a “water wall” under his Operation Love Star. The “floating barrier … stretches 1,000 feet along the Rio Grande river between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico.”

The barrier, installed at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, hinders the work of U.S. Border Patrol agents but Abbott rebuffed the Biden administration’s demand to dismantle it. The federal government sued and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Texas.

The ongoing dispute has morphed into a crisis being stoked by racist remarks from former president Donald Trump and others. It is also the latest call to arms – literally – for those who demand an end to immigration to protect European American domination. Abbott argues – correctly — that the high court’s opinion on the barrier dispute is vague, and also – wrongly -that his state is being invaded and he has the constitutional authority to take steps to repel the “invaders.”

Following the failed Jan. 6, 2921, coup attempt to keep Trump in power, the border crisis is hardening the belief that a showdown of some sort is coming. In fact, some Americans are already seeing the United States as really two nations, one comprising mostly Southern states.

Indeed, all but one of the other 26 states with Republican governors, also defying the high court and federal authorities, signed a letter supporting Abbott and “every tool and strategy, including razor wire fences, to secure the border.” The exception was Phil Scott of Vermont. Some, including Florida, pledged to dispatch National Guard or other state troopers to help Abbott. President Joe Biden, as commander-in-chief, can federalize some of those units but South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem warned on February 4 that if the president takes away “my authority as governor as commander-inchief of those National Guard, boy, we do have a war on our hands.”

Commented Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake, “Republicans and conservative media have alluded to the prospect of the situation forcing soldiers to choose between loyalty to their state and loyalty to their country – even proposing that matters could turn confrontational and violent. Some have invoked another civil war.”

NPR cited a Business Insider story on a poll showing that the majority of Americans believe that a “cold” civil war is already taking place. The University of Virginia Center for Politics released another poll which found that a majority of those who voted for Trump in 2020 want their states to secede. And 41 percent of those who voted for Biden said it might now be “time to split the country,” NPR reported.

Meanwhile, as Abbott and other Republican leaders blame Biden for the immigration crisis, Republicans, who control the U.S. House, demonstrated their seriousness about reforming the system by trying – and failing — to impeach Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for “his failure to comply with official duties.” They were planning to try again this week. Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under which immigration matters fall.

Further, Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a bipartisan immigration reform proposal a week ago, preventing the bill from going to the full Senate, which needed 60 votes. House Speaker Mike Johnson had anyhow already pronounced it “dead on arrival.” That happened even though Biden ignored protests from progressive Democrats and backed the bill which, as critics pointed out to Al Jazeera, signaled a “rightward lurch on immigration.”

Trump denounced the bill even before the final version was made public. He is obviously unwilling to let immigration reform happen in this election year when he is seeking to return to the White House. He also wants to use it as the Republicans’ counter to criticism of the ending of a federal right to abortions by the U.S. Supreme Court, including by the three members he appointed.

Even before then, Trump was already demonizing refugees and immigrants, including the estimated 11 million undocumented ones already here. He accused them, during a December campaign rally in New Hampshire, of “poisoning the blood of our country.” NBC News noted, “The term ‘blood poisoning’ was used by [Adolf] Hitler in his manifesto ‘Mein Kampf,’ in which he criticized immigration and the mixing of races.”

However, as HuffPost recalled, Trump, as president, pushed for bipartisan immigration reform in 2018. He said then that he was “appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party and to sit down and negotiate and to compromise, and let’s see if we can get something done.” But Trump suddenly reversed himself, giving, as the reason, disagreement over visas. Republicans also blocked bipartisan reform proposals in 2006 and 2013.

Ironically, the latest bill which failed had the backing of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing more than 18,000 border patrol agents, which endorsed Trump in 2020.

But, in an election year, none of that matters – and neither, it seems, does the slaughter of 22 residents of El Paso, Texas, including one elderly man whose family said he told them he was “living the American dream.” For them, in Texas and elsewhere, racist murderers and unscrupulous politicians are turning the dream into a nightmare and the El Paso killer showed that “invaders” do not necessarily have to come from overseas.