Attacks against the Hispanic community have more than tripled in a year according to an official report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Hate Crime Victimizations report, a Census-driven study, shows an alarming rise in violent anti-Hispanic crime from 0.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2011, to 2.0 per 1,000 in 2012.
The overall total of nonfatal and property hate crime victimizations for the entire study, 293,800, isn’t statistically different to 2004 (the first year for which there is data), however. In other words: the number of hate crimes hasn’t changed—the targets have.
Extremism expert Mark Potok, editor in chief of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly journal from the Southern Poverty Law Center, pointed to the Census projection that white people will become a minority in the U.S. by 2043 to explain the shift in motivations. “It looks like what we’re seeing is a rise in anti-Latino hate crimes and anti-Muslim hate crimes,” he told The Daily Beast. “And those, I think, are pretty clearly related to the continuing and rising anger over country’s demographic changes, the loss of the white majority.”
According to data on Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project from 2013, 51 percent of the 35 million Hispanic adults living in the U.S. are immigrants. While the majority (81 percent) of the Hispanics pooled in the Pew study expressed satisfaction with their current state of living, others live in constant fear of attacks. Stories like the one of a 40-year-old Mexican immigrant on Staten Island, who suffered a broken jaw after a 20-year-old swung a scooter at his head, keep the fear alive.
A plethora of authors and activists have highlighted this disturbing trend. In a scholarly article published in 2011’s Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, three professors analyzed the incidence level of anti-Hispanic crimes in places with higher rates of Hispanic immigration. Their findings support the claim that Hispanic immigration is the leading cause of violence against that population.
With a growing Hispanic population, comes a growing number of hate crimes. This is the first year that ethnicity has surpassed race in the offender bias category (In 2012, 51 percent of victim’s reported bias based on ethnicity, 46 percent reported it based on race). Bias based on sexual orientation was the only significant decrease between 2011-2012 (from 19 percent to 13 percent), which some experts attribute to advances made by the LGTB community.
Meagan Wilson, author of the study, said the bias statistics are tricky because victims can cite more than one for a single crime. “It’s the victim’s perception of bias,” Wilson told The Daily Beast. “So with ethnicity, for example, it means they were targeted because of an ancestral, cultural, social, or national affiliation.” Wilson said that 58 percent of those polled (roughly 92,000 households across the U.S.) reported more than one motivation for the attack. “Those are the two most prevalent categories every year,” Wilson said of ethnicity and race. “They’ve been very consistent, even though motivations change over time.”
The Bureau of Justice Statistics report of hate crimes in the U.S. in 2012 isn’t the only set of data for that time period. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also releases a report—theirs based only on hate crimes that have been reported. Out of the 5,790 single-bias incidents reported in 2012 by the FBI (BJS’s total is 50 times that number), only 11.5 percent were motivated by ethnicity/national origin bias.
With the knowledge of how many go unreported, the BJS survey is seen as a more accurate portrayal of hate crime in America. Other notable statistics in the survey range from an increase in the amount of violent hate crimes (90 percent in 2012, up from 78 percent in 2011) and the percentage of hate crimes motivated by religious bias (now up to 28 percent). Overall, an estimated 60 percent of total and violent hate crime victimizations were not reported to police in 2012.
The study, while extensive, is by no means perfect. Potok noted there may be some inaccuracy involved in counting victimizations rather than instances, since one particular crime may have more than one victim. The study takes into account standard error.
Potok, who also covers that subject, supported the importance of the data. “It shows how very few hate crimes are reported to the police at all,” he said. “And the majority of those that are reported are, in fact, miscategorized.”
This study is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and is based on the National Crime Victimization Survey, which was first launched in 2003. Using a nationally represented sampling pool of about 163,000 persons above the age of 12, the study tracks the number of “nonfatal crimes perceived by victims to be motivated by an offender’s bias against them.” In the report, hate crimes are specified in alignment with the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which defines them as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.”