Latinos report more than twice as much discrimination as a decade ago, study shows

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Though they are the largest racial or ethnic group in the country, Latinos are not getting the warmest welcome in the United States, according to new research. 

In a study published in the online journal Social Science & Medicine — Population Health, researchers found that 68% of Latinos reported some kind of discrimination from fellow Americans. Researchers named anti-immigration laws like Arizona's SB-1070 as one source of the anti-Latino sentiment. They also discussed the unintended effects of anti-Latino discrimination, namely its effects on Latino health. 

Latino Arizona activists protesting anti-immigrant policies Source: Matt York/AP
Latino Arizona activists protesting anti-immigrant policies  Matt York/AP

The survey spoke specifically to a few types of discrimination, including being treated with less courtesy or respect, being treated as if people are "afraid" of you or being threatened or harassed. 

The numbers behind the discrimination varied when accounting for country of origin, age and generational status. Overall, Puerto Ricans (80%) reported the highest rate of discrimination when compared to Mexicans (68%), Cubans (46%) or other Latinos (65%). 

Reporting of Latino discrimination was higher among those living in a state with anti-immigrant policies like Arizona's SB-1070, a law requiring all citizens to carry valid identification at all times. The law also permits law enforcement to ask for the immigration status of anyone detained for a crime.  

According to the study's researchers, very few studies have dealt with discrimination against U.S. Latinos. The last study to do so looked at data from 2002-2003 and determined that about 30% of Latinos in the United States faced discrimination. While researchers outlined a number of reasons in the data's minutiae to explain the dramatic rise, they also said that the rise in state-sanctioned discrimination, like Arizona and other state's identification laws, is likely the biggest culprit.

"Another plausible explanation for the difference is the actual shift since 2003 in the anti-immigrant climate as manifested in state legislation," researchers wrote. "Following the events of September 11, 2001, immigration enforcement shifted away from the nearly exclusive focus at international borders with Mexico and Canada toward newly created operations deployed in the interior like the Secure Communities program implemented by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement." 

Because Latinos face more state-sanctioned discrimination, according to researchers, they are more likely to see day-to-day discrimination, too.