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Immigration fears, the election of our nation’s first black president, economic recession and the increasing Latino population continue to fuel the growth of hate groups in the United States.

This is the perfect combination to incite prejudice, and hate groups profit from that anger, Southern Poverty Law Center stated in its Year in Hate report.

Although rights groups are trying to stop the spread of intolerance, statistics show the increased number of hate groups and memberships is counteracting the search for an antidote to end hate.

According to the SPLC, 926 groups were present in 2008 and Texas has the second-highest count at 66. The Confederate Hammerskins and New Black Panther Party were among the seven Houston chapters.

American citizens, legal immigrants and illegal immigrants are the constant target of blame for the economic crisis.

“Tough economic times provide fertile ground for those who would foment hate against minorities by scapegoating them for our problems,” Mark Potok, editor of the quarterly Intelligence Report, said in an editorial posted on the SPLC Web site.

In light of recent events, hate groups have been invigorated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics.

         The What would you do? ABC experiment is aimed to show the reactions of people if they were in a hypothetical situation to test the rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

The Latino worker’s mission was to order a cup of coffee in broken English at a local diner in New Jersey. Bystanders felt compelled to react when hearing the clerk insult the laborers.

Along with the clerk, some witnesses were frustrated and made xenophobic remarks, while others ignored the situation. One bystander thought it was wrong to discriminate against the laborers since we are a supposed nation of immigrants.

Violence and spending ridiculous amounts of money on the construction of an inefficient barrier are grave and visible consequences of anti-immigrant sentiment.

“Does the First World nation wish to become a Third World country? Because that is our destiny if we do not build a sea wall against the waves of immigration rolling over our shores,” political analyst Patrick Buchanan said.

Billions of dollars are being spent on the fence along the Southwest border. According to the Associated Press, residents of the town on Granjeno near Rio Grande said illegal immigrants “still pour through town by climbing over or walking around the nearly two-mile barricade designed to keep them out.”

“About 60 percent of total U.S growth will come from the Latino population, according to the most recent Census Bureau projections,” mayor of San Antonio Henry Cisneros said. “This holds true even if the border fence that Congress and the Bush administration authorized proves impenetrable  — which is highly unlikely.”

People have used excuses such as ethnicity, religion and language to justify their desires to divide and create groups throughout history. Today is no exception.

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