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Reports of Hate Crimes Against Latinos Steadily Increasing

According to a newly released report on hate crimes from the FBI, reported hate crimes against the Latino community (including assaults and robberies) increased from 485 in 2018 to 527 in 2019. Law enforcement agencies reported that 4,784 single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry in 2019, and of these, 14.1 percent were anti-Latino. This marks a steady growth in hate crimes overall in the last few years, with hate crime murders in the U.S. reaching a 27-year high in 2018. Some experts believe politics and specifically the rhetoric used by President Trump play a role in the steady increase, specifically when it comes to the Latino community. From 2016 to 2018, there was roughly a 41% increase in anti-Latino hate crimes, which increased 8.7 percent from 2018 to 2019.

“President Trump frequently refers to Latinos in the most hateful and bigoted ways, and words matter. Having just visited El Paso and hearing first hand from the victims of the tragic shooting there, I know that hateful words have hateful consequences, and can result in violence and even death,” Janet Murguía, president and CEO of Latino nonprofit advocacy organization UnidosUS, told NPR last year following the release of the 2018 hate crime report. “President Trump should be aware that in the community’s mind, he bears some responsibility for the increase in hate crimes against Latinos.”

Of the 51 murders reported as hate crimes,  22 of the victims died in the El Paso massacre in Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019, where most of the victims were Latino. This year the 23rd victim of the shooting died of their injuries. The shooter was charged with hate crimes after allegedly telling police he drove to the store intending to kill “Mexicans.”

“We’re seeing the swapping of one derided group in the social-political arena for another,”  Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said in a statement last year. “Attacks against Muslims peaked around 2016 when terrorism was the concern. Now immigration is the No. 1 issue, and Latinos are being targeted.”

Though the improvement of reporting of hate crimes may factor in the increase, law enforcement officials and advocacy groups are inclined to believe more hate crimes are being committed.

Advocacy organization Chicanos Por La Cause tweeted about the report saying it, “shows increase nationally of hate crimes against Latinos for 4th year in a row. This is unacceptable. Latinos should not be harmed due to hatred, bias & bigotry.”

The data for the report is based on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country. Last year, only 2,172 law enforcement agencies out of about 15,000 participating agencies across the country reported hate crime data to the FBI, the bureau said according to NBC News.