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As anti-immigrant political power plummets, violence on the rise

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Last week we saw anti-immigrant candidates losebig in races across the country. We saw a new day for New Americanand Latino voters, who flexed their political muscle by turning out in massivenumbers on November 4th. Well, it is not yet the new day we were hoping for.

Today wegrieve with the family of MarcelloLucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was stabbed to death in Suffolk, NY, byseven teens. These teens, between the ages of 16 and 17, admitted they, “wantedto beat up someone who looked Hispanic,” according to newsday.com:

“These individualstold detectives that they were looking to beat someone of Latinoheritage,” said Det. Lt Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the homicide squad,adding that the victim, Marcello Lucero, 37, is of Ecuadorian descent.

From LongIsland Wins:

Thehorrible murder of Marcello Lucero is thelatest and deadliest of a series of anti-immigrant attacks in SuffolkCounty. The seven young men charged in the attack come from an area a few milessouth of the hamlet of Farmingville, the epicenter of anti-immigrant organizingon Long Island. Farmingvillefirst gained national attention in 2000 when two young men abducted a pairof Mexican day laborers and tried to beat them to death. It was in theheadlines again a few years later when five high school students burned downthe house of a Latino family, whose sleeping occupants barely escaped withtheir lives.

Unfortunately, there is nothing isolated about thisincident. For the fourth solid year in a row, hate crimes against Latinos areon the rise. According to a recent report by the SouthernPoverty Law Center:

Hate crimes targeting Latinos increased again in 2007, capping a 40% rise in the four years since 2003, according to FBI statistics released earlier this week.

As anti-immigrant propaganda has increased on both the margins and in the mainstream of society – where pundits and politicians have routinely vilified undocumented Latino immigrants with a series of defamatory falsehoods – hate violence has risen against perceived “illegal aliens.”

Hate Crime Incidents

Organizations that advocate on behalf ofLatinos, such as NCLR and CASA Maryland, have also been primetargets of this frightening trend-as well as major forces to counteract it.NCLR recently launched a website called “We Can Stop the Hate,” and has wona battle in court over deaththreats to immigrant advocates.

Imagine2050 captures the way that the immigration debate has reignited the ugliesttendencies of our society:

Underneath this raging battle thatdivides communities, neighbors, friends and families a simple factremains-forced economic migration, more popularly known as”undocumented immigration”, has become its own vocabulary, a way totalk about race, in a society in which race has often been aconversation coded in meaningless terms such as “reversediscrimination,” “dual loyalists,” “illegal alien” and “playing therace card.” 

‘Race’ was a major issue in this election,for obvious reasons, but most pundits have overlooked one major way that racismhas made its comeback of late. An out-of-control immigration debate, left tofester in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, has given rise tonew waves of racial hatred against anyone perceived as “Latino.”

It is time for politicians on both sides ofthe aisle to come together to condemn the kind of rhetoric we’ve let pass for”debate,” and to pass a humane, common-sense immigration reform.