Immigrants increasingly the target of hate crimes

    Two Pennsylvania teenagers were sentenced to up to 23 months in prison Wednesday in the beating death of an illegal Mexican immigrant last summer.

    Two Pennsylvania teenagers were sentenced to up to 23 months in prison Wednesday in the beating death of an illegal Mexican immigrant last summer.

    The teenagers were acquitted of more serious charges. Some officials and activists are calling the killing a hate crime that was motivated by rising tensions between a growing immigrant population and some long-time residents of the small town of Shenandoah, PA.

    Some civil rights activists say the killing fits into a larger national surge in hate crimes against Latinos.

    Temple University sociology professor David Elesh says a difficult economy can prompt some people to point the finger at immigrants who are perceived to be competitors for jobs.

    Elesh: We’ve seen a rise of hate crimes against Hispanics in recent months and some part of that may be due to their sense that the Hispanic immigrants are posing a competitive threat.

    In the Shenandoah case, some local and national leaders have called for federal charges.

    A U.S. Justice Department spokesperson says the Civil Rights Division is investigating whether there was a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights laws.

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