Latino Teens Feel Discrimination

U.S.-born Latino teenagers in different regions of the country feel discrimination from key institutions in their lives -- school, law enforcement and the workplace, according to a national study.

The National Council of La Raza, a national civil rights and advocacy organization, interviewed 60 Latino teens, ages 15 to 17, from Langley Park, MD, Nashville, TN, Providence, RI, and Los Angeles, CA.

The youngsters said teachers, employers and police officers negatively stereotype them and their families, the study found.

In schools, for example, educational institutions Hispanic students are overlooked and inaccurately placed in classes. One unidentified, English-speaking student who moved to Tennessee from California told interviewers that her new school placed her in an ESL class.

"It was only because I was Hispanic," she said, according to the study. "The first day I went to that class, and they left me there and they put me in the reading class like for dummies, like para tontos, I guess."

Police departments, too, treat young Hispanics unfairly, La Raza found. The interviewees said they were profiled by cops, who wrongly thought assumed they were gang members or immigrants.

"I got stopped like five times by the same cops for no reason," one teen from Rhode Island told interviewers."

The author of the 72-page report, Patricia Foxen, said the negative treatment "shows that our nation is treating our Latino outsiders and as not quite belonging."

During a conference call, she added that the anti-immigrant discourse leading into the midterm elections adds fuel to the fire.

"The rhetoric is creating a hostile environment," she said.