After living in the U.S. for 16 years, Marcello Lucero, an Ecuadoran immigrant living in Long Island, was senselessly stabbed to death by a group of seven teenagers, who Police say were looking to kill a Hispanic – any Hispanic. According to the blog Long Island Wins,

[The assailants] said that they were on patrol to go “Beaner jumping”. “Beaner” is a derogatory word for Mexican. The attackers told police that they said ‘Let’s go find some Mexicans to — — up,’

Marcello Lucero fell victim to a startling rise in anti-Latino and anti-immigrant hate crimes in the U.S. Just last month, the FBI released a report showing a 40% increase in anti-Latino hate crimes. The report’s findings are consistent with the swelling nativist movement that has become larger and more vitriolic in recent years and its impact undeniable as anti-Latino hate crime incidents reach unprecedented levels.

Janet Murguia, president of National Council of La Raza (NCLR) responded,

“That hate has trickled down to a new generation is very disturbing…Words have consequences…And hateful words have hateful consequences. For too long hate groups and hate speech have dominated the national debate on immigrants, mischaracterizing all Latinos and the institutions that serve them in the process. Lives are literally in the balance.”

Newsday reports that Marcello Lucero was “elated by the election of Barack Obama last week.” According to his brother,

“He saw it as a chance for people with brown skin to be seen as equals. Instead, my brother was killed because of his appearance.”

Unfortunately, the election of Barack Obama is not enough to quell racial tensions overnight. However, President-elect Barack Obama and the newly dominated Democratic Congress cannot afford to disregard the needs and future of the fastest growing part of the American Electorate. They will have an extraordinary opportunity to address and advance fundamental immigration reform principles and stifle hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric with practical policy solutions. Immigrants like Marcello Lucero supported and pulled through for Barack Obama. Now it’s Obama’s turn to pull through for them.