WASHINGTON (AP) — Who is discriminated against in America? More Americans say Hispanics than blacks or women — and it is far from just Hispanics who feel that way.
An Associated Press-Univision Poll found that 61 percent of people overall said Hispanics face significant discrimination, compared with 52 percent who said blacks do and 50 percent who said women.
The survey also underscored how perceptions of prejudice can vary by ethnicity. While 81 percent of Latinos said Hispanics confront a lot or some discrimination, a smaller but still substantial 59 percent of non-Hispanics said so.
It is not unusual for members of a group to feel they face more prejudice. In this survey, that was especially true when people were asked about “a lot” of discrimination. Fifty-five percent of Hispanics but only 24 percent of non-Hispanics said Hispanics encounter that.
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“I see it in people’s faces, in the way they react,” said Raymond Angulo, 66, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen and retiree from Pico Rivera, California. “It’s gotten somewhat better, but it’s still there. I feel like it’s never going away.”
However, Jason Welty, a lawn care specialist in Indianapolis who is not Hispanic, said he has seen little evidence of the problem despite working frequently with Hispanics.
“They’re treated by most of our clients and the people we work with just like anybody else,” said Welty, 30.
The AP-Univision Poll compiled the views of 901 Hispanics, which were compared with the results of a separate AP-GfK survey of the general population.
Attention on whether Latinos are singled out for unfair treatment has intensified since last month, when border state Arizona enacted a law requiring local police to ascertain the citizenship of people they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.
President Barack Obama called the statute “misdirected” Wednesday at a joint news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and he said the Justice Department will soon complete a review of whether it violates civil rights laws. But others have rallied behind the statute as a needed step with an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, the Latino advocacy organization, said the poll’s findings suggest a silver lining in the country’s often bitter debate over immigration.
“For a lot of people, regardless of how they feel about what we should do about immigration, they’re recognizing that this community has been singled out and targeted,” Navarrete said.
About 40 percent of the Hispanics in the survey said they had experienced much discrimination personally — including just 13 percent who said they had dealt with it a lot.
“I was discriminated against, ‘You’re just a dumb Mexican,'” said Ric J. Romero, 56, a retiree in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who said he traces his family’s origins to Spain, not Mexico. “Yes, there is still very heavy discrimination.”
But Sabino Infante, 62, a college admissions counselor from Hesperia, California, said he has never experienced the problem. Infante, who is originally from Mexico, attributed the higher perceptions of prejudice by Hispanics than non-Hispanics to some people having “a chip on their shoulder, an attitude.”
Among Hispanics, women are more likely than men to say Latinos suffer discrimination. In addition, Hispanics from cities and rural areas are more likely than those from the suburbs to say Latinos face a lot of prejudice.
Matilde Martinez, 59, a Puerto Rican-born New Yorker, said she believes Mexican immigrants face much mistreatment.
“It causes me a lot of pain,” she said in an interview conducted in Spanish. “These people come to work and they do work that the Americans won’t do for the little pay they get.”
There also are partisan differences. Fifty-five percent of Hispanic Democrats and 38 percent of Hispanic Republicans say there is a lot of discrimination against Hispanics, and Hispanic Democrats are more likely than those in the Republican Party to say they have personally been affected.
Hispanics in the poll perceived discrimination against other groups a bit more often than non-Hispanics did.
Fifty-seven percent of Latinos and 50 percent of non-Hispanics said blacks are discriminated against. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of others said they had observed discrimination against women.
The AP-Univision Poll was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media from May 7-12. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 901 Hispanic adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.
The findings were compared to a separate AP-GfK poll of 1,002 adults from the general population, also by GfK Roper. It involved cell and landline interviews conducted from May 7-11, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.