Immigrants and anti-immigrant sentiments seem to be at an all-time high in fueling hate crimes. One recent study appears to suggest that in a four-year period between 2004 and 2008, hate crimes against Latinos increased more than hate crimes against other groups. Nationally, Latinos reported 426 hate crimes in 2003; in 2007 that number totaled 595. The disturbing increase in hate crimes against this ethnic population is compounded by the widespread belief that people equate Latinos with the general political debate on immigration.
In 2010, over 1,000 hate groups operated in the United States. This number of hate groups broke a new record. In recent years, most states have started measures to combat hate crimes. Unfortunately, the extent of our measurable, “official,” hate crime data is limited to two decades. Further complicating this endeavor is the definition of what constitutes a hate crime—some scholars have argued that these crimes have existed for centuries. Yet it was not until 1990 that the Hate Crime Statistics Act “mandated the collection and reporting of hate crime data . . . .”
This paper (1) outlines the differences between “hate crimes” and “hate rhetoric” or a “hate incident”; (2) looks at statutory authority across jurisdictions; (3) shows the extreme underreporting in Washington State; (4) examines a history of institutional hate perpetuating non-reporting by immigrants; (5) explores non-statutory methods of encouraging immigrants to report hate crimes; and (6) discusses the Seattle model of inclusiveness, which could be leveraged to allow for more immigrants in overcome barriers to reporting hate crimes.
For the purposes of this article, the framework for the usage of various terms is provided. The term hate crime is analogous to bias crime. Statutes, both state and federal, define hate crimes. A hate crime generally “occurs when a person commits an act such as assault, battery, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to property or mob action, because of a victim’s race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
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