Hate crimes and law enforcement misconduct targeting Latinos are on the upswing, a trend that has gone largely unnoted because of a dearth of reliable data and policymakers' reluctance to move beyond the "black-white" racial model, according to a report released yesterday by the nation's largest Hispanic advocacy group.
The National Council of La Raza report documents dozens of assaults, church burnings and cases of alleged law enforcement abuse against Hispanics. It also says the number of federally reported hate crimes against Hispanics increased nearly 20 percent from 1993 to 1996, which it called a consequence of broad "anti-immigrant" sentiment, the rapidly growing Hispanic population and an increased "tolerance for intolerance."
The report, released at the NCLR's annual convention, relies heavily on anecdotal evidence to make its case. "The fact that there has been no systematic data collected is itself a statement," said Carmen Joge, a civil rights policy analyst for the NCLR.
The federal government "has failed to recognize or failed to collect the full range of data."
The report says Latinos are frequent victims of racial profiling by police.
That issue has received wide attention as it relates to African American motorists, but Latinos face similar unfair scrutiny, a situation that the NCLR says receives little attention.
Besides noting an increase in crimes against Hispanics, who account for 11 percent of the U.S. population and are expected to be the nation's largest minority group by 2005, the report said there are indications that more Latinos are becoming perpetrators of hate crimes. From 1995 to 1997, the report said, race-based hate crimes committed by Hispanics increased from 22 percent to 34 percent of total hate crimes in Los Angeles County, a pattern that the NCLR found in several other California counties.