World War II was far from El Paso many tend to believe. Extremist and radicalized political views do not exist in El Paso. Except for the domestic terrorist – Patrick Crusius – who traveled to El Paso to execute Mexicans at the Walmart on August 3, 2019, extremism is not part of the El Paso landscape many tend to believe. Although few in El Paso know about it and those that do tend to shy away from it, historically El Paso has seen its share of extremism hidden in plain sight. In many ways, El Paso encourages displacing the people of color for whiteness in America.

Extremism in America and immigration go hand in hand. As the nation debates migrant “surges,” the El Paso leadership would do well to learn from its history, quit pretending “all is good” in El Paso and become part of the national debate on immigration and people of color, instead of pretending its not an El Paso problem.

“The message of El Paso, historic and present, is this: In America constructed by some as ‘great,’ if you are a white man,” all is acceptable, including white immigrants. [1] But if you are a person of color you are a “surge” endangering the people of this “great” nation.

On the surface El Paso has an identity crisis when it comes to its Mexican roots. The driving force behind its identity crisis are the El Paso leadership that marginalizes the people of color. What happened to the cultural center that El Paso promised the Latinos of the city? The Glass Beach Study is quintessential El Paso.

The El Paso historical record is buried deep to keep its reality hidden. Instead of the unvarnished truth El Pasoans are presented with colorful pageantries of distorted history (Viva El Paso) or gunfight reenactments replete with people of color wearing oversized Mexican hats fighting the white man (Six Guns and Shady Ladies), or worse, the distorted whitewashing of El Paso’s history glorifying the white hired guns taming the Chihuahuan desert from the outlaws, who are often people of color (Leon Metz).

El Pasoans tend to believe that Nazis in El Paso, Cold War spies, Islamic terrorists, migrant tent cities and racist law enforcement is the problem of other cities when in reality it is an El Paso historical fact.

It is this lack of historical perspective that allows El Paso to birth abusive law enforcement agencies like BORTAC or why El Paso is home to the worst immigration judges in the country, or why El Paso often glosses over the whole debate on immigration as a problem for someone else.

Over the next few articles here on El Paso Politics and on Border Politics we will expose the buried or distorted history and connect it to the ongoing migrant border issue. From there we will delve into the why and the how immigration is used as a blunt instrument to keep people of color as a minority in America.

As readers begin to understand the historical nexus and see how immigration is used as a tool it will become apparent why solving the immigration issue is so difficult. Readers will understand why El Paso pretends immigration is someone else’s problem, while El Paso play centerstage to the migrant crisis in America.

From there the answer to resolving America’s immigration policies will be understood and why El Paso’s leadership plays dumb to the chaos around them while allowing the immigration tools used to keep people of color away blossom within El Paso.

Over the next few articles, we will see how the Nazis played in El Paso, in the past and even today, laying the foundation for today. Readers will learn about the Cold War spies and the Islamic terrorists in El Paso, at least one of who called El Paso home.

From the Nazis to the Cold War and to homegrown and Islamic terrorism El Paso has had a part in all of it. What many do not know is that white supremacy is part of the equation of El Paso’s historical past.

El Paso’s Nazi past goes beyond Operation Paperclip which we will delve deep into in the next article. An El Paso mayor, Tom Lea, gave the Nazis the technique for the Holocaust gassings that murdered millions. As if that wasn’t enough, Lea provided the national idea that Mexicans “are dirty lousy,” and “destitute,” a danger, if you will, to the safety of the homeland.

It is from this set of articles that the reader will begin to see how El Paso is the blunt tool keeping Mexicans at bay, all with the tacit agreement of El Paso’s leadership, Latinos included.


  1. Diane McWhorter, “The forgotten histories of El Paso and Dayton tell a vital story,” CNN, Opinion, August 8, 2019.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...