Politicians Beware: Your Immigrant Bashing on the Campaign Trail Has Consequences

For Immediate Release

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Michael Earls
(202) 261-2388

Politicians Beware: Your Immigrant Bashing on the Campaign Trail Has Consequences

WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury has convicted
two Pennsylvania men of committing a hate crime in the murder of Luis
Ramirez in 2008.  The verdict is welcome and long overdue.  Now, it’s
time for politicians and media personalities to end the hateful rhetoric
and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos
and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez.

This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads
that demonize immigrants, and using extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric in
their voter outreach.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA)
and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that
paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of
native-born Americans.   

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “Hateful
campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in
America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for
immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a
climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply
because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis
Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and
pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their
microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for
common sense immigration reform.”          

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers
who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired
Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to
Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get
the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next
to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico”
as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not
guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

But appeals are coming, even some questioning whether Mr. Ramirez’ legal
status should prevent him from receiving the protection of the Federal

“Luis Ramirez lost his life because a group of people hates immigrants. 
This kind of thing should not happen in America.  Politicians who stoke
racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe
consequences for communities and our country.  It’s time to end the
politics of division, and work together on a common solution to the
broken immigration system,” Tramonte concluded.



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America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America’s Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.

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