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Understanding Trends in Hate Crimes Against Immigrants and Hispanic-Americans

NCJ Number
Michael Shively, Ph.D.; Rajen Subramanian, Ph.D.; Omri Drucker; Jared Edgerton; Jack McDevitt, Ph.D.; Amy Farrell, Ph.D.; Janice Iwama
Date Published
December 2013
157 pages
This report presents an overview of current time-series data for measuring hate crimes, as well as their utility for assessing the presence and significance of trends in hate crimes, with a focus on the challenges in measuring hate crimes against immigrants and those of Hispanic heritage living in the United States.
This project's analysis of data from Federal data collection programs - such as the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and the National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS) - found that each produces excellent data for certain kinds of research, but have substantial limitations for the specific purpose of assessing the significance of trends. Agency participation in NIBRS is too limited to provide national coverage, and the small numbers of raw responses underlying NCVS estimates produce large confidence intervals and prohibit State-level analyses. UCR data are the most suitable and can detect statistical significance of trends at the national level and within one State (California) for all hate crime types combined. None of the national systems allow for modeling trends in bias-motivated crimes against immigrants, because they do not currently include any measure of immigrant status. The under-reporting of anti-immigrant hate crimes is the result of two major challenges. First, many victims fail to report hate crimes to police, either because they do not recognize the victimization as a crime or because they fear the implications of reporting to the police. Second, once a victim does come forward, the crime may not be recognized as bias-motivated by the local police, because of lack of training or language difficulties. Police in expert panels convened for this study reported receiving few reports of hate crimes against immigrants or Hispanic-Americans. Short-term and long-term strategies for addressing these challenges are recommended. Extensive tables and figures