Hate groups and right wing extremists are using Americans’ concern about undocumented immigration, the current economic downtown, and the election of the first African-American president to gain new recruits, according to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report leaked last week.
As was the case during the recession of the early 1990s, hate groups have exploited the perception that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens and used it as a call to action. The report notes that the anti-immigrant rhetoric by right-wing extremists ‘has the potential to turn violent.’
Fear of a pending economic collapse has also made it easy for hate groups to exploit racial tensions and promote paranoia about the possibility that the government will take away certain civil liberties such as the right to bear arms or will create camps to detain citizens unlawfully. Many extremist groups, including militias, have stockpiled weapons and ammunition in preparation.
Much of the government’s findings are consistent with a recent Southern Poverty Law Center report on hate group activity in the U.S. that found an increase in the number of hate groups nationwide between 2007 and 2008.