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Latino Haters on the Rise, group says

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Thanks a load, Minutemen. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a well-known civil rights group, released a report Monday that links a 48 percent spike in hate groups since 2000 to anti-immigrant rhetoric that fuels headlines and hours of cable TV.

The center counted 888 organizations it considers hate groups nationwide and 49 in Florida. Among them are three in Fort Lauderdale (Jewish Defense League, Vinlanders Social Club and Nation of Islam) and one in Miami (the Nation of Islam because, as the report states, "black separatists typically oppose integration and racial intermarriage.").

The report cites FBI statistics that show a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006. Hate has gone mainstream. The report says Mexican and Central American immigrants have openly been characterized as "invaders," "criminal aliens" and "cockroaches."

Anti-immigrant leaders tagged as haters in the report have responded vociferously. The founder of Americans for Legal Immigration, pointed out inaccuracies made by the law center about his group. But doesn't dispute this nasty quote: "Call me old fashioned, but people should be able to shop at Wal-Mart without worrying about catching [t]uberculosis." Sorry, but if your best argument as to why the report is propaganda is that it got a date and your employment history wrong, that's a little weak.

--Janine Zeitlin

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