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Immigrant Status Tied to Discrimination Among Hispanics

Immigrant Status Tied to Discrimination Among Hispanics

Story Highlights

  • One in four Hispanics report mistreatment in past month
  • Foreign-born Hispanics report more mistreatment than U.S.-borns
  • Hispanics' reports of discrimination lower than blacks' reports


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About one in 10 U.S. Hispanics say they have experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity over the past month in each of several locations -- their place of work, in dealings with police, while getting healthcare and at an entertainment venue such as a bar or restaurant. Slightly fewer report being discriminated against in a store while shopping (7%). Altogether, 25% of Hispanics have felt discriminated against in at least one of these situations.

Hispanics' Perceptions of Mistreatment in the Past 30 Days

Half of the Hispanic adults in the sample say they were born in the U.S. (50%), while the other half (49%) were born outside of the country, and the two have significantly different experiences with discrimination.

Hispanics born outside of the country are much more likely than those born in the U.S. to say they have experienced discrimination in each of the situations in the past month. For example, while 18% of foreign-born Hispanics say they were treated less fairly at their place of work because of their ethnicity, only 5% of U.S.-born Hispanics report experiencing workplace discrimination.

Foreign-born Hispanics (15%) are five times more likely than U.S.-born Hispanics (3%) to say they experienced discrimination because they are Hispanic while getting healthcare for themselves or for a family member.

These data are from Gallup's June 15-July 10 Minority Rights and Relations poll, which included a sample of 508 Hispanic adults.

The smallest gap between reports of discrimination between native-born and foreign-born Hispanics is in dealings with the police, such as traffic incidents. On this item, only four percentage points separate U.S.-born Hispanics (8%) and foreign-born Hispanics (12%).

Hispanics' Perceptions of Mistreatment, by Immigrant Status

One factor that may explain the gap in discrimination between native-born and foreign-born Hispanics is language. The poll included interviews with Hispanics in both English and Spanish, with those born outside the U.S. much more likely to be interviewed in Spanish than native-born Hispanics. In turn, the analysis shows that reports of discrimination are much higher among foreign-born Hispanics who are interviewed in Spanish than those interviewed in English. This indicates that language, in addition to ethnicity, may be a key factor in Hispanics' reports of discrimination and in any actual discrimination that occurs.

Hispanics Less Likely Than Blacks to Say They Are Mistreated

The same sequence of questions about discrimination was asked of blacks in the Minority Rights and Relations poll, and for each situation, Hispanics are less likely than blacks to say they experience unfair treatment. While roughly one in 10 Hispanics feel they have been treated unfairly at work and in dealings with police in the past 30 days because of their race, nearly one in five blacks report being treated unfairly in these situations. Blacks are only slightly more likely than Hispanics to feel discriminated against during healthcare transactions.

Blacks' and Hispanics' Perceptions of Mistreatment in the Past 30 Days

However, the percentage of Hispanic immigrants who say they have been discriminated against is similar to that of blacks. This means that Hispanics as a whole report less discrimination than blacks because native-born Hispanics rarely report discrimination.

Bottom Line

As mistreatment of blacks gains more attention in the media amid Black Lives Matter protests, media coverage about discrimination against Hispanics may fall to the wayside. But the feelings among roughly one in 10 Hispanic adults -- and an even higher percentage of foreign-born Hispanics -- is that they are not treated fairly by those they work and interact with.

The treatment of Hispanics, particularly of immigrants, takes on special significance as the nation continues to debate immigration reform. The issue has already become a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, and Republican front-runner Donald Trump, in particular, has attracted both support and criticism for his unflattering portrayal of Mexican immigrants and a platform that attempts to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Historical data for this question is available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-July 10, 2015, with a random sample of 508 Hispanics, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. One hundred thirty-eight out of the 508 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish. All respondents had been previously interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey and agreed to be re-contacted by Gallup. For results based on the total sample of Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

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