Americans of Latin American ancestry (often categorized as "Hispanic" or “Latino”) come from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Latinos are often portrayed as passionate, hyper-sexual, violent, lazy, or macho in literature, films, television and music.
Recent increases in legal and illegal Hispanic immigration have spurred anti-Latino sentiment, particularly in areas of the United States that have seen few Hispanic immigrants. The immigration debate has generated negative feelings of racist claims such as Latin Americans taking over the white Anglo-American society, especially in the Southwestern United States. Reports from this area of the country have cited traumatic abuses of Latino immigrants, including women and children.
An Associated Press poll from 2010 found that 61 percent of people said that Hispanics face significant discrimination. There has been a backlash against illegal immigration that has created a divide amongst Latinos in the United States. It is leading to deeper concerns about discrimination against Latinos (including U.S. born and those who immigrated legally).
The perception of discrimination against Hispanics has worsened throughout the decade. In 2002, 47 percent of people classified discrimination against Latinos as a major problem, compared with 61 percent in 2010. Seven out of 10 immigrant Latinos indicated that discrimination is a significant barrier that keeps Latinos from succeeding in the United States, while less than half (49 percent) of their native born counterparts indicated this feeling.
Despite rising concerns in the polls, new surveys find no increase in reports of discrimination over the past decade. The poll came in at 34 percent of Hispanics stating that they, a family member or close friend had been a target for racist discrimination in the past five years.
Despite this fact, one-third of Latinos know someone who has been detained by the federal government in the past 12 months, the highest figure among foreign-born Hispanic-American residents.