Hispanic activists cite rise in threats

Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:40 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Hispanic activists report increasing death threats and other avenues of intimidation in the heated debate over illegal immigration, officials say.

Leaders of the largest Hispanic civil rights groups, the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens, have received anonymous threats of violence and death, The Washington Post said Thursday.

"We've seen a rise in threats directed at Hispanic groups," said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of La Raza. "We've seen a rise in hate groups. This is not just a feeling."

The FBI reported hate crimes against Hispanics rose from 595 to 819 from 2003 to 2006, the year of the massive immigration demonstrations.

"I think people do feel afraid, and legitimately so," said John Trasvina, president and general counsel of MALDEF.

"Most of them don't threaten you individually," Brent Wilkes, executive director of LULAC, told the Post. "Most of them say there's going to be blood in the streets, or you're forcing us to take this kind of action, or you're creating a war."

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