Completely understandably, the focus on the alleged assault of a Hispanic man in Boston on Wednesday has focused on politics. Scott Leader, one of the brothers charged in the crime, reportedly told police that "Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported," according to the Boston Globe.
Informed of the incident, Trump offered a pretty stunning reply:
Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame. ... I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess, and in the case of two intoxicated brothers that urinated on a homeless man and beat him with a pole simply because he's Hispanic, the silver lining is that they are passionate about America.
The focus on Trump's comments, though, distracts from another point worth isolating: Hispanic immigrants have been regular targets of hate attacks — and are more likely than non-immigrants to feel as though they've been mistreated in everyday life.
That latter point comes from data published by Gallup on Thursday. The firm asked Hispanics how many times in the past 30 days they'd felt as though they were treated unfairly because of their race. One in 10 said that this had happened to them at work, when interacting with the police, at a restaurant or when receiving health care.
But perceptions of being treated unfairly differed widely between Hispanics born in the United States and those who'd immigrated here. In most cases, immigrants were four or five times as likely to report having been treated unfairly.
That's far different from being beaten by drunken Red Sox fans, of course. There's plenty of anecdotal information about Hispanics being attacked for their ethnicity, but hate crime data is much patchier. The most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics was released in February 2014 and looks at three years, 2004, 2011 and 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, hate crime attacks on Hispanics increased three-fold. For every 1,000 Hispanics over age 12, two reported having been attacked.
Again, this data is patchy. There's some reason to think that even what is reported is low. As Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center noted to the Huffington Post in 2011, "Latinos, and in particular undocumented immigrants, are among the least likely to report hate crimes because they fear deportation." It stands to reason they also might not tell a pollster. So an actual figure is hard to establish.
Which makes it hard to say whether this incident is a function of the current critical focus on immigration — and the real estate magnate that prompted it — or a fairly common occurrence onto which was stapled a bit of 2016 rhetoric.
Trump's response was newsworthy for how tone-deaf it was. It was also much more novel than the crime itself.