A white supremacist walked through a crowd of people awaiting a speech by Richard Spencer at the U. of Florida in October. (Rex Features via AP Images)

In a new report released today, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that the number of hate groups operating in the United States expanded last year under President Donald Trump, fueled by his immigration stance and by – what his critics say – his dog whistling to white supremacist groups.

The SPLC’s Year in Hate and Extremism report identified 954 hate groups in the United States last year, an increase from the 917 it had documented in 2016.

“President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “When you consider that only days into 2018, Trump called African countries ‘sh*tholes,’ it’s clear he’s not changing his tune. And that’s music to the ears of white supremacists.”

In just three years, the number of U.S. organizations designated by the SPLC as hate groups has risen 20 percent.