The Southern Poverty Law Center Manipulates Crime Data and Terminology in Last-Ditch Attempt to Stop the Immigration Debate, Asserts the Federation for American Immigration Reform

Mar 09, 2008, 00:00 ET from Federation for American Immigration Reform

    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."
     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