Stats on Hate Crimes Against Latinos Likely Undercounted Due to Deportation Fears

In an interview with NotiMex, the Vice-President of the National Council of la Raza, Lisa Navarrete, said that the stats on hate crimes against Latinos are an underestimate and part of that is because many of the undocumented who are the targets of anti-Latino and anti-Latino attacks are afraid of being deported.

The FBI statistics have shown a decrease in hate crimes against Latinos. In 2007, there were 830 reported hate crimes against Latinos. In 2008 the number dropped to 792. In the last year that data is available for, 2009, the number of reported and recognized hate crimes against Latinos is 692.

The latest threat, especially to immigrant women, is hidden in a program with a misleading name, Secure Communities. According to a recent article in Women’s eNews :

While federal law protects crime victims from having to reveal their immigration status, if these victims are arrested or have been arrested in the past Secure Communities now discloses that.

This can affect victims in a scenario where a police officer arrives at the home and can’t communicate with the couple. Police may arrest both parties or even arrest the victim if the abuser speaks English and twists the series of events that led to the police call.

This is not theory. We have already seen it happen.

Also, above I use the language “reported and recognized” regarding hate crimes very deliberately. While, yes, obviously, the fear level continues to be amped up by immigration raids that target Latino immigrant communities, even if hate crimes are reported, there is still the barrier of having the incident labeled officially hate crime. The definition of what makes a “hate crime” and hate crime varies from municipality to municipality, and from state to state. Police usually demand the obvious, the use of racial slurs, in order to grant the “hate crime” label. What often is not taken into considerations are the more subtle shifts in communities across the country as demographics shift and resentments grow as the Latino population also grows.

So the question that needs to be answered, by the Latino community, is what are we going to do, inside of our communities to protect and the defend the lives and safety of our community members? What we especially going to do in cases of domestic violence so that the mujeres and children are protected. Justice clearly does not come at the other end of a 911 call. So where is it then?

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