WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement is being issued by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Today the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued a misleading release announcing a significant increase in the number of hate groups and hate crimes over the last few years. The release then suggests that our national debate over immigration reform has fueled the increase in both. Offering no criteria as to what constitutes a hate group, manipulating the data for self-serving purposes, and then making broad, unsubstantiated conclusions, this latest release from the SPLC constitutes one of its most reckless charges to date. It is calculated to be inflammatory, tarnish the reputation of leading immigration reform groups, and shut down meaningful public policy debate about immigration reform. When examined responsibly, the FBI hate crime data show a dramatically different story than the one the SPLC portrays. First, in order to suggest an artificially large increase in the raw number of hate crimes, the SPLC selects 2003 as its base year, one of lowest years on record for hate crimes against Hispanics. If one compares the number of hate crimes between 1995 (the earliest report available on the FBI's website) and 2006 (the most recent statistical year available), one would see that the number of hate crimes has increased only 17 percent. But even this is not the whole story. The SPLC conveniently forgets to index the raw hate crime data with the population, a step always taken by the FBI to more accurately depict an increase or decrease in crime. Thus, when one indexes a 17 percent increase in hate crimes against Hispanics with a 67 percent increase in the Hispanic population between 1995 and 2006, it becomes clear that the rate of hate crimes against Hispanics has in fact dropped dramatically -- by about 40 percent. This reduction in the rate of hate crimes against Hispanics is even more apparent when one considers that the number of law enforcement agencies that participate in the FBI's hate crime data collection program increased 33 percent between 1995 and 2006. Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the number of law enforcement agencies participating in the FBI's hate crime data collection program increased by over 700. Finally, the SPLC claims that there has been substantial growth in the number of "hate groups" since 2000. However, the SPLC provides no definition of a "hate group" and offers no objective criteria that it uses to classify organizations as such. The SPLC appears to think that it can stick this label onto any organization it wishes, including long-standing, highly-regarded immigration reform organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) without being challenged as to its motivations or methodology. FAIR is confident the media and the American people will see through the SPLC's deceitful tactics. "There is no level of hate crime that is acceptable -- period," says Dan Stein, President of FAIR. "However, the SPLC's calculated abuse of the term 'hate group' and manipulation of hate crime data for self-serving political interests is an affront to hate crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. The SPLC manipulates data to reach deceitful conclusions, tosses the term 'hate group' at highly-respected organizations like FAIR, and then mixes the two in an attempt to stop our national debate over immigration reform. But this is consistent with the SPLC's growing practice of making allegations with no factual basis, no criteria and sadly, no one challenging their increasing habit of playing fast and loose with the facts. Unfortunately, it is the American people who suffer most through this irresponsible behavior." ABOUT FAIR Headquartered on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., FAIR is the largest, oldest and most respected immigration reform group in America. With over 250,000 members, FAIR advocates for non-discriminatory immigration polices that protect American jobs, wages, the environment, and national security. As a bipartisan organization free from special interest influence, FAIR is regularly sought by Congress and the media for its objective analysis and for its fair, practical and effective policy solutions.
SOURCE Federation for American Immigration Reform