Members of Episcopal Church of Our Savior, a predominately Latino church in Silver Spring, Maryland, were greeted Sunday with a racist message mentioning President-elect Donald Trump.
The church’s sign advertising their Spanish-language service and wall of the church’s memorial garden was vandalized with white nationalist graffiti reading “Trump Nation Whites Only.”
Housed in Montgomery County, which has the state’s largest Hispanic population, the church is thought to have been targeted because of anti-immigrant sentiments expressed by the Trump campaign.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and of people all cultures and faiths,” Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde told the congregation and media following the packed service. “I would call, especially, on the president-elect and those who voted for him to separate themselves from acts of violence and hate.”
Latinos and immigrants have been left to question how they will fit into a Trump-led country, following the victory of the Republican nominee who pledged to restrict immigrant entry into the U.S. Many Latinos worry about the racial overtones of Trump’s threats to increase deportation, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and levy sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized workers.
Trump has been accused of promoting xenophobia and some people have used his words as justification to carry out hateful acts, as racially charged attacks and threats surged in the days following the Nov. 8 election.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has counted more than 200 instances of “election-related harassment and intimidation” nationwide in the days following the election, with a majority of attacks being anti-black and anti-immigrant.
The incidents, many of which have not been independently verified, included “vandalism and epithets directed at individuals” and took place mainly at K-12 schools and universities.
Students have been particularly frightened by the election results.
In a letter to parents, Jen Thomas, principal of Hearst Elementary School in D.C., where Hillary Clinton was elected in a mock election, teachers used the day after the election to “speak with kids about their feelings.”
“Many kids felt scared, angry, sad, disappointed, and alienated by the results and there were tears in quite a few classrooms,” Thomas said. “Kids were particularly concerned about the fate of their friends in the Hearst Community and whether or not they would be able to remain in the U.S.”
In a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday, the president-elect wavered on his support for deporting as many as 11 million people, suggesting that he would remove up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds, but many are still worried.
Araceli Rosenberger, a communications manager at the Latin American Youth Center in D.C., a multi-service youth development organization, said students of all backgrounds expressed fear about what will happen to Hispanics after the election.
“While we all have a fear of safety and intimidation, nothing compares to the fear of having your family separated,” Rosenberger said.
The organization also has sites in Maryland’s Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, which host the two largest Hispanic populations in the state. Nearly 65 percent of the youth they serve are Hispanic.
Rosenberger said the organization will continue “reinforcing that this is a safe space” and will vigorously fundraise to bolster services and provide immigration supports to students in need.