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Hate Crimes Against Latin American Immigrants Essay

Updated August 8, 2022

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Hate Crimes Against Latin American Immigrants Essay essay

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Throughout the last century, America has been viewed all over the world as the Land of the Free. In that decade, millions of immigrants and dreamers from Latin America have flocked to the oasis of opportunity to make a better living for themselves. However, many newcomers are met with an imposing force in this new society: discrimination and bias. The American society poses their arms out to the world in a welcoming fashion to all. Under the facade, however, there lies a dark truth all Hispanic immigrants will face: a hatred implanted in the people of America, that will forever root the foreigners as aliens. Running blindly in hopes of freedom and equality, they are instead met with prejudice and bigotry. Few people realize this issue of bias in America, and many organizations are working hard to solve this problem.

The bias immigrants face do not stop at just words and name-calling, it can come in a reduction in job opportunities, assault, and even murder have been used to discriminate and hurt the community. Many hate-crimes are often viewed as normal to the victims, as they often face severe hate-crimes. According to, “Hate incidents targeting Latinos and immigrants often go beyond name-calling and intimidation. Victims and advocates also say they are too often the targets of assault, robberies and even murder” (“PublicIntegrity” 5). These immigrants are facing such discrimination because of the difference in skin color and ethnicity. The severe crimes range from physical abuse to permanent damage to an individual and even death. Although the hate crimes committed against immigrants are in the thousands, most go unreported because of the lack of trust in officials, fear, and the language block between the immigrants and the officials. Not being able to communicate their worries and their complaints, many immigrants choose to not report the incidents at all.

The root of this problem can be traced back to 1848 when the Mexican American War was meeting its end. With the US winning the war, America successfully gained a large portion of Mexican territory. All the Mexicans and Latinos in the area were given a choice to leave or stay and were granted a US citizenship. As the years went by, political issues in Mexico prompted many Mexicans to immigrate into the US. Because of these political events, US was able to gain a considerable Mexican-American population. According to Erin Blakemore, “The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which marked the war’s end, granted 55 percent of Mexican territory to the United States. With that land came new citizens. The Mexicans who decided to stay in what was now U.S. territory were granted citizenship and the country gained a considerable Mexican-American population” (Blakemore 4). The first Mexican “immigrants” perceived by the American people were actually not immigrants. They were given citizenship after the war and legally became people of the state. Although this huge population would benefit the American economy, sentiment against the immigrants grew.

As the Latino immigrants grew in numbers in the 19th century, the factories and industrial employers of America were in desperate need of cheap labor. Immigrants played a key factor in these industrial economies and helped enormously in developing and boosting the economy. As America was becoming more industrialized, the sudden flood of immigrants “was welcome news to American employers like the Southern Pacific Railroad, which desperately needed cheap labor to help build new tracks” (Blakemore 5). As the West was becoming modernized, immigrants served as the cornerstone for the advancements. With the Gold Rush coming into play as well, Mexicans began to own large portions of Californian mines. However, with this advancement in Hispanic culture and life, came discrimination and violence.

Violence became normality to the Hispanic community in the 1900s, with public sentiment growing against them. While in some cases the Hispanic community was able to dodge the bullet with stereotypes and discrimination like segregation, other times the prejudice grew fatal. In many cases throughout American history in the 1900s, Hispanic and Latino immigrants have fallen victim to the racial injustice set forth by their white counterparts. In one example, “…a mob of vigilantes accused Josefa Segovia of murdering a white man. After a fake trial, they marched her through the streets and lynched her. Over 2,000 men gathered to watch, shouting racial slurs. Others were attacked on suspicion of fraternizing with white women or insulting white people” (Blakemore 8). With fake trials and frequent raids, Hispanic immigrants suffered horrific cruelty like lynching, dragging, and deportation even of citizens. And even to this day, although physical violence and cruelty have subsided, mistreatment in class and false stereotypes remain rampant.

With TV becoming a major tool in people’s lives as their tool to reality, the perception given off by the news is very important. With TV shows and news channels becoming more prevalent in the everyday lives of Americans, the negative perception given off by the media about Hispanic and Latino communities is disturbing. This facade allows the whole community of Hispanics to fall prey to discrimination. According to the report, Power of Pop: Analyzing Portrayals of Immigrants in Popular Television, “researchers found that a significant portion of storylines tied to immigration or immigrants centered on some form of unlawful activity including murder, human trafficking, and drug dealing.

In a racial and ethnic breakdown of those storylines, 50% of Latino immigrant characters were represented in an unlawful act and 38% were depicted as incarcerated…” (Villafañe 4). With pop culture portraying the Hispanic immigrant community at large as a criminal like society, it only helps grow the negative stereotypes already in place in the 1900s. Leading on with stereotypes, the majority of Hispanic and Latinos that are currently residing in the US are natural born citizens, many Americans have the false pretense that all Hispanics are immigrants. According to Janice Iwama, “…there is ‘the common misperception that all Latinos are immigrants.’ In fact, two-thirds of the 57 million Hispanics living in the U.S. in 2015 were natural-born citizens, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study” (“PublicIntegrity” 17). These depictions of unlawful Latino characters only help deepen stereotypes, worsen the discrimination, and create more bias.

Although violent acts against immigrants have subsided from the 1900s, they are still an ongoing problem in the United States. With death threats to physical beatings and murder, Hispanic immigrants across America are silenced with petrified fear. With discrimination against the Hispanic immigrant community rising, more and more immigrants fear to report the incidents because of the paralyzing fear of being deported or getting targeted again. Many of the immigrants who face discrimination or hate-crimes hesitate to report it to the officials, and especially those who are undocumented. According to Monica Bauer, director of Hispanic affairs at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), ‘“In immigrant communities, the fear is palpable, ”…“It’s so much fear that I think the word doesn’t really convey. It’s almost terrified, like it’s beyond fear. It’s paralyzing fear”’ (“PublicIntegrity” 7). There is no one area where discrimination of Hispanics is concentrated.

Throughout America, racial slurs, death threats, and physical violence have been reported. While these reports are estimated to be in the thousands, only a couple a hundred are reported because of the fear and distrust in the officials. In some cases, these hate crimes turn out to be quite brutal. According to a first-hand account by Onésimo Marcelino López-Ramos, he “…was confronted outside his home in Jupiter by three men who beat him with a rock, a metal rod, and an ax handle — crushing his skull, prosecutors said. Assistant State Attorney Jill Richstone said the men were “Guat hunting,” referring to a practice of robbing and assaulting Guatemalans walking home on paydays” (“PublicIntegrity” 69). Onésimo killed on the spot, which is why it is likely that the officials found out about this incident. There are many more first-hand accounts stories of hate-crimes, but the justice is not quite served. In many cases, the victim is left with no justice served, and the guilty prowling the streets again.

Out of the little incidents of injustice that are reported in America, most cases end with the verdict of innocent. The big fault in all of this is that the guilty are allowed to be set free back in the streets, with the victim receiving no justice at all. In most cases, the flaw stems from the jury, because an all-white jury is going to be biased towards a Hispanic immigrant, with racial stereotypes in play. When Hispanic immigrants have the courage to report an incident to have justice delivered, flaws in the system disappoint them.

In a particular incident, a man named Edu Martinez, 28, was a victim of a hate-crime and racial slurring. According to Martinez, “The responding officer determined there was probable cause to arrest Berry for intimidation, according to a police report. “Berry’s verbal insults, conduct, and threat to cut off Victor’s head was a serious threat to cause serious physical injury and made in a heated, racially motivated manner,” the officer wrote…. Prosecutors charged Berry with three counts… a one-day trial resulted in a jury finding Berry not guilty on all counts, court records show…. He blamed the verdict on bias by the jury, which he said was “all white.”’ (“PublicIntegrity” 31). Like Martinez, many Hispanic immigrants have faced bias and discrimination by the “American” people. But defects in the Justice System has allowed these offenders back onto the streets with no charge.

Most of these situations occur because of the racial bias in the courtroom, with the lack of diversity in the jury, most of the times being white, and stereotypes that have been implemented into the minds of the judging. Discouraged by the system, this encourages more and more immigrants to not report incidents to the officials which in turn causes more hate crimes and discrimination against the Hispanic immigrants.

The flaws in the justice system aren’t something the government or the people will recognize anytime soon, and it will take a while for it to change. The demographics of certain areas cannot help having an all-white jury which can in most cases lead to some bias.

Also, an important factor in the difficulty of solving this injustice is that the undocumented and immigrants are afraid of calling the police. According to Esperanza, an undocumented Guatemalan, “She immigrated to Florida in 1997, and has feared interaction with authorities since” (“PublicIntegrity” 81). With the fear of getting deported, many immigrants try not to raise any red flags by calling the officials, because not only can it bring harm to you, but your neighbors and families can also be affected.

Another big obstacle this problem brings is the racial bias and stereotypes that have already been set hard into people’s minds. With 52% of Hispanics in America experiencing some kind of bias, it is quite clear that the offenders have a racial motive and have a perception of Hispanic immigrants being “bad.” The portrayal of the Latino and Hispanic community as incarcerated and likely to have criminal-like behavior results in the American people gaining a biased and untrue perception of the Hispanic immigrant population. With the media and the internet becoming the most powerful tool that connects Americans to other Americans, this negative portrayal of the immigrants worsen the stereotypes and bias.

When discussing the problem of immigrants and the bias given to them economically and in all aspects of life, there is a solution. Considering the Hispanic immigrants as inferior and “different” is where the problem stems from. First, acts of violence towards Hispanic immigrants started when Americans in the 1900s began to worry the immigrants were taking their jobs. So in order to solve the problem of inferiority and bias, American society as a whole need to strive to level the playing field. According to, “We provided tools that could be flexibly applied, ease their paths and built bridges. Tearing down barriers such as language and requirements for formal levels of education resulted in job opportunities and less discrimination” (Goldings 10). Allowing immigrants to be on the same playing field will not only allow Hispanics to transition out of the ‘criminal” stereotype, but it will also help the American people will not have opportunities or desire to discriminate.

New immigrants from Latin America flood into the U.S. every day for a new future. While the American society might view them as hostile and strange, the immigrants feel no better. They too have stepped in a new world, the culture is vastly different from their own. Instead of isolating the immigrants and making them different and, they must be given a chance to participate in the community. Forcing immigrants to assimilate will never work, while they may look like they fit in, they will not and that creates an opening for discrimination and bias among the people. As Rick Goldings said, “Instead of isolation, we provide the tools for participation. Crucially, we will succeed if we help immigrants combine the links in their ethnic community while building connections to their new home country around them” (Goldings 15). Introducing the culture while at the same time allowing them to connect to their own ethnic backgrounds, immigrants must be given the opportunity to adapt and fully gain a foothold in America to be considered equal among their neighbors.

Every American can work towards this solution to end the bias. Although the officials play a key role in helping the immigrants integrate into society, citizens can give out a helping hand to the immigrants in need. Any immigrant struggling to cope with the surrounding environment should be helped, and people should also step out of their way to provide the information in their local area, like schools, events, and the community to these Hispanic immigrants. Examples of reaching out and helping the immigrants include, “Hostesses would visit new residents with a gift basket of product samples contributed by local businesses and discount coupons for services. They also included information on schools, the community, and events. Importantly, the welcome pack also told them about health services and local government access” (Golding 14).

As thousands of Hispanic immigrants enter this land of hope and opportunity, these immigrants are hit with a wall of bias and discrimination from the start. Facing more hate and more violence than their home country, these immigrants struggle to live in America due to hate crimes and flawed thinking of the American citizens. Everyone on earth is equal, and in a country like America, where our forefathers constructed this nation on that belief, everyone should be considered equal not inferior. Our society has far too long discriminated Hispanic immigrants and all others only based on their skin, ethnicity, and country of origin. Society as a whole must strive to uphold morals and standards to allow an equal playing field in this nation. Every day another immigrant must endure the onslaught of abuse they were running from. With all this violence and bias going on in America, ask yourself: Do you want to be the victim of discrimination?

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