By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Most Latinos in the United States say they have suffered discrimination, more than twice as many who said so a decade earlier, according to research released on Tuesday.
A study published in online journal Social Science and Medicine – Population Health found 68 percent of Latino men and women in the United States reported discrimination, a rate comparable to that reported by blacks, which was more than twice the 30 percent rate of findings from 2003.
The study found that those living in U.S. states with tougher anti-immigrant policies such as Arizona were more likely to report discrimination.
Joanna Almeida, assistant professor of social work at Simmons College in Boston and lead author of the study, said links between discrimination and anti-immigrant policies are “chilling” given the hard-line stance toward immigrants taken by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump, who takes office in January, has promised mass deportation of the estimated 11 million migrants in the United States illegally and vowed to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Our findings are especially concerning in light of President-elect Trump’s promise to take a hard line on immigrants and immigration including carrying out mass deportations,” Almeida said in a statement.
The research suggests an “increasingly negative immigration policy environment and anti-immigrant sentiment is likely to engender higher levels of discrimination,” she said.
The reported rise in discrimination could be due to a shift in anti-immigrant attitudes in the United States and perception that discrimination is sanctioned by state governments, the study said.
Scores of anti-immigrant measures were passed after the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, it said, such as a law in Arizona that required police to demand documents of people suspected of being in the United States illegally.
Arizona ended the practice earlier this year as part of a legal settlement with immigrants’ rights groups.
The study used data from the National Latino Health Care Survey, a telephone survey of 800 Latino adults in 2013.
Most of those in the study were Mexican, followed by Puerto Rican and Cuban. About half were foreign-born, and nine out of 10 were U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, it said.
While supporters of anti-immigrant policies may target undocumented immigrants, the findings show that legal immigrants feel the hostile environment as well, it said.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Thomson Reuters Foundation)
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