The FBI's annual Hate Crime Statistics report was released on Monday, and the numbers show a dramatic spike in crimes against Latinos. In total, the study reported that 66.6 percent of victims of ethnically motivated hate crimes in 2010 were targeted because of anti-Latino bias. It is the highest percentage of victims targeted for their Latino heritage in almost a decade.
There was an 11 percent spike from the previous year's report that showed Latinos accounting for nearly 45 percent of hate crimes based on ethnicity or national origin.
"These crimes basically target you for who you are," the FBI's Erik Vasys said later in a press conference. "There's a lot of factors that go into possible rises in statistics. It could be anything from more agencies participating to better and more accurate reporting."
While the FBI says it's unclear why hate crimes agaisnt Latinos are on the rise, it is important to note that between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population grew by 43 percent -- or four times the nation's 9.7 percent growth rate. All fifty states and Washington D.C. saw rises in the Latino population.
Some say the number of hate crimes may even be higher for Latinos because they're the least likely to report crimes against them. Mark Potok, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Huffington Post: "One thing to understand is that Latinos, and in particular undocumented immigrants, are among the least likely to report hate crimes because they fear deportation."
The Hate Crime Statistics Program of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program collects data regarding criminal offenses that are motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability and are committed against persons, property, or society.