Hate Crimes Against Latinos At New Record Levels

FBI data document continued disturbing and violent trend

October 28, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – The annual Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Hate Crimes Statistics Report released yesterday documents the continued rise of crimes that police report are motivated by bias against Hispanics. In 2007, local police reported to the FBI that there were 830 victims of anti-Hispanic crimes in 595 incidents around the nation. Both of these numbers represent increases over the previous year and surpass previous highs dating back to when annual reports were first mandated by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

According to the report, in 2007, Hispanics comprised 61.7 percent of victims of crimes motivated by a bias toward the victims’ ethnicity or national origin. In 2004, the comparable figure was 51.5 percent. Since 2003, the number of both victims of anti-Hispanic crimes and incidents increased by nearly 40 percent.

Earlier this year, Luis Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant who was engaged to be married to the U.S. citizen mother of his two small children, was beaten to death by a group of white teenagers in Shenandoah, PA. According to witnesses and local reports, he was accosted on the evening of July 12 and suffered fatal blows to the head and other parts of the body while the perpetrators shouted racial and ethnic epithets. MALDEF successfully requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the killing as a hate crime and the local District Attorney has filed murder and ethnic intimidation charges in the slaying. The trial will take place in the coming months.

“Hispanics are under assault in America’s neighborhoods,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña. “Heightened anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by cable and radio talk show hosts, coupled with local police efforts to enforce federal immigration law, leaves members of our communities more in danger with less protection than ever before. The FBI report makes the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform more critical to our community’s safety and the nation’s future. It must be a priority for the next President and Congress.”

The report goes on to demonstrate the steady growth of anti-Hispanic hate crimes after 2003.

2007: 595 anti-Hispanic crimes against 830 victims

2006: 576 anti-Hispanic crimes against 819 victims

2005: 522 anti-Hispanic crimes against 722 victims

2004: 475 anti-Hispanic crimes against 646 victims

2003: 426 anti-Hispanic crimes against 595 victims

2002: 480 anti-Hispanic crimes against 639 victims

Click here to view the full report.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund