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story.lead_photo.caption Mahud Villalaz, 42, of Milwaukee gestures to the second-degree burns on his face Saturday November 2, 2019 at a news conference one day after a man threw acid at him outside a restaurant on Milwaukee's south side. He is joined by, from left, state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, his sister, and Forward Latino leader Darryl Morin. (Sophie Carson/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee police arrested a man suspected of throwing battery acid on a Hispanic man who said his attacker asked him, "Why did you come here and invade my country?"

Police said Monday that they arrested a 61-year-old white man suspected in Friday night's attack, but they have not released his name. Police said they're investigating the case as a hate crime and charges are expected today.

Mahud Villalaz suffered second-degree burns to his face. He said the attack happened after a man confronted him about how he had parked his car and accused him of being in the U.S. illegally. Villalaz, 42, is a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru.

The attack comes amid a spike in hate crimes directed at immigrants that researchers and experts on extremism said is tied to mainstream political rhetoric.

At a news conference Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett expressed shock at the attack and blamed President Donald Trump for inciting hatred against minorities. The president has repeatedly referred to migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border as an "invasion."

"To single out someone because they're from a Hispanic origin is simply wrong. And we know what's happening," said Barrett, a Democrat. "Everybody knows what's happening. It's because the president is talking about it on a daily basis that people feel they have license to go after Hispanic people. And it's wrong."

The White House did not immediately comment.

A report issued last year by the Anti-Defamation League said extreme anti-immigrant views have become part of the political mainstream in recent years through sharp rhetoric by anti-immigration groups and politicians.

Surveillance video shows the confrontation but does not include audio.

Villalaz told reporters Saturday that he was headed into a Mexican restaurant for dinner when a man approached him and told him, "You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal." He said the man also accused him of being in the U.S. illegally and of invading the country.

He said he ignored the man and moved his truck to another block. However, when he returned to the restaurant, the man was waiting for him with an open bottle, Villalaz said.

The man again accused him of being in the U.S. illegally, Villalaz said. He then told the man that he was a citizen and "everybody came from somewhere else here," Villalaz said.

That's when he said the man tossed acid at him. Villalaz turned his head, and the liquid covered the left side of his face.

Villalaz's sister told the Associated Press on Monday that her brother believed the man was prepared and wanted to attack someone.

"He's in shock. He says he can't conceive how someone would be intent on harming someone like that," Villalaz said in Spanish.

She said her brother is recovering. She said the doctor who treated him said it helped that he immediately washed his face several times inside a restaurant. His family created a GoFundMe page to cover his medical expenses.

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