Immigration Debate Tied to Rise in Hate Crimes

Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, June 17, 2009

U.S. civil rights leaders said yesterday that an increase in hate crimes committed in recent years against Hispanics and people perceived to be immigrants “correlates closely” to the nation’s increasingly contentious debate over immigration.

Hate crimes targeting Hispanic Americans rose 40 percent from 2003 to 2007, the most recent year for which FBI statistics are available, from 426 to 595 incidents, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund issued a report that faulted anti-immigrant rhetoric in the media and mobilization of extremist groups on the Internet. The conference said that some groups advocating for tighter immigration laws have invoked “the dehumanizing, racist stereotypes and bigotry of hate groups.”

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The FBI reported in October that the number of hate crimes dropped in 2007 by about 1 percent, to 7,624. But violence against Latinos and gay people bucked the trend. The number of hate crimes directed at gay men and lesbians increased about 6 percent, the FBI reported.

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[Editor’s Note: “Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009” can be read on-line here.]

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