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Weekly Immigration Wire: Why are hate crimes on the rise?

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by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

On May 30, 29-year-old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia Flores were shot to death, purportedly by a group of far-right anti-immigrant activists who broke into the Flores home by posing as police officers. On Friday, Shawna Forde, anti-immigrant activist and Executive Director of the Minutemen American Defense, (MAD) along with accomplices Jason Eugene Bush and Albert Robert Gaxiola were arrested on two counts of first-degree murder and burglary charges related to the Flores murders.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that the MAD website denounces the murders, but wryly adds that the distancing is "a tad belied by headlines down the page," like "Subhuman Mexicans (God's Children?) Prey on Countrymen." The Flores murders are part of a palpable political and social climate of hostility and revulsion toward Latin American immigrants that is running amok in our nation.

As Democracy Now reports, the FBI has noted a rise in hate crimes against Latinos, which isn't difficult to verify anecdotally. And, according to Laura Flanders at GritTV, "economics, racial panic, immigration, [and] right wing rhetoric" all play a crucial role in this rise. If our government continues to spend resources that help portray people as both predatory and "subhuman," it will continue to foster a perception that violence against this class can be committed in good conscience.

This national, anti-immigrant fervor has resulted in a courts system in which "countless immigrants are subjected to harassing or denigrating treatment" and "have no assistance in navigating the byzantine court process," writes Mary Giovagnoli at AlterNet. She reports that "misguided deportation-only strategies have led to a breakdown in our immigration court system." The system is overloaded, backlogged, and not operating effectively or humanely.

The U.S. immigration process is in disrepair due to neglect and improper stopgap measures (like agreement 287(g)), just as broken bones will fuse in any manner if not set correctly. We are mired in an interim period and tensions will continue rising until we take on the challenge as a nation. In any part of the process, from application to arrest to detention to deportation, there are glaring problems. RaceWire touches briefly on the lack of accountability in the detention system.

Is the increasing absorption of virulently racist mentalities into mainstream groups a terrible confluence of unrelated factors, or a predictable reaction to the "browning" of this country? At the same time the U.S. military has relaxed its rules on accepting recruits with ties to white supremacist movements, so have circumstances allowed for "a new crop of anti-immigrant groups to enter the mainstream dialogue, even though many have ties to hate groups with violent records," as Miriam Zoila Pérez writes for Feministing.

Shawna Forde is as a spokesman for one of these hate groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR made news on Tuesday for disingenuously presenting statistics that demonize immigrants as a strain to the economy. At AlterNet, Walter Ewing exposes the tortured logic FAIR employs and makes the case that "once ... inconvenient truths are taken into account, FAIR’s 'cost' evaporates."

It wasn't long ago that we reported on how many anti-immigrant pundits were using the Swine Flu to create a toxic anti-immigrant/anti-Latino climate. And sadly, none of those people understand how hate speech leads directly to violence. Talking Points Memo makes the alleged murderers' ties to the anti-immigration movement clear.

When the government build walls to stave off fears, it is, ironically, reinforcing that same emotion of fear. When hostile and punitive legislation is enacted, fear of the Other is mixed with aggression. When a fearful and aggressively rigid mindset is applied to social fluctuations that require flexibility and change, the result is an increase in the return of that negative energy.

And yet, hope will live on. And sometimes that hope will lead to historic change. Which is why we must keep writing and talking, keep pushing, and keep challenging all the injustice we find.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration.

Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter.

And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

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