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New National Study by Civil Rights Organization Reveals Intersectional Impact of Racial Discrimination, Immigration Enforcement and Economic Opportunity on Latinx Communities



Contact: Saraí Bejarano[email protected]212-739-7581

New National Study by Civil Rights Organization Reveals Intersectional Impact of Racial Discrimination, Immigration Enforcement and Economic Opportunity on Latinx Communities

New York, NY -  A new report issued by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national nonprofit advancing equity and justice in Puerto Rican and Latino communities, provides important findings from focus groups conducted among Latinos of diverse racial identities, ages, geographic and national origins revealing how these communities experience discrimination and other barriers to their social and economic well-being.

The report, titled “How Race, Colorism, and Identity Shape Legal Needs in the Latino Community” “En Sus Propias Palabras,” was researched and authored by Dr. Linda Lopez, Ph.D.; Maria Velasquez, MPA and Joseph Flores, MGPS. They spoke to people in seven states—California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas—and Puerto Rico over five months to gather Latinos’ views and perceptions on racial identity and discrimination, economic and educational barriers, policing and civic participation, and how these affect their ability to raise their families.

Some key findings:

Afro-descended and indigenous-identified Latinos suffer an increased burden of discrimination and colorism not just from non-Latinos, but within the Latino community, making it difficult for Afro-Latinos to acknowledge their ancestry and for indigenous Latinos to use their native language; 

Parents and youth are strongly concerned about the possibility of violence in schools, and the possibility of encountering gun violence in their everyday lives, and a fear of crime and violence coexisting with fear about approaching law enforcement or being persecuted by immigration enforcement;

Latinx youth, across immigration status, are deeply concerned about how they can help relieve their families’ financial burdens, and about future financial security for themselves and their families;

Recent migrants to Florida who are eligible voters said they have not been engaged on voting or civic participation by a political party, an electoral campaign, or a civil society group;

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to linger among Latino families, because of death of family and friends, loss of jobs, impact on mental health, and how the crisis deepened existing inequities;

People in Puerto Rico reported deep concern over lack of access to basic services, shrinking pathways out of poverty and ongoing effects of “second class citizenship.”

“While some of the findings were not surprising, they reinforced the importance of not treating Latinos as a monolithic group but being mindful of the differential treatment of Afro-Latinos, Indigenous Latinos and recent immigrants, as well as looking at how these issues intersect and affect each other. The report provides an incredible reference for guiding our own work and supporting our partners working in Latino communities,” said Francisca Fajana, Director of Racial Justice Strategy for LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “It’s no secret that our Latino communities continue to suffer severe effects from discrimination for their national origin, accent, and skin color, but one area where we have to do more work is how Afro- and Indigenous Latinos are also discriminated against by their own communities.”

In December 2021, LatinoJustice PRLDEF reinvigorated its longstanding commitment to racial justice by launching its Racial Justice Project with the express objective of addressing ethnicity and race-based barriers in laws, policies, and practices in a range of civil rights issues. Through the Project, LatinoJustice retained researchers to uncover how Latino identity shapes and informs the legal needs of diverse racial groups, ethnicities and nationalities that identify as Latino. The report was funded by Vanguard and shepherded under the auspices of LatinoJustice PRLDEF Racial Justice Project.


About LatinoJustice
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit