The National Council of La Raza blames the continuing debate over immigration reform for an uptick of housing discrimination against Hispanics in San Antonio and in two other cities it studied, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  The report on a study by the Equal Rights Center of NCLR was presented at the group's annual meeting in New Orleans.


  Stephanie Gonzalez, who heads the Center, says individuals with Hispanic surnames and occasionally with Latin American accents called real estate agents in San Antonio, Atlanta, and Birmingham Alabama to inquire about an available property.  People with Anglo surnames also called the same rental agents.


  "If they are Latino they are getting less information about the lending process, or less information about how they can acquire the property, in comparison to the White testers, Gonzalez told 1200 WOAI news from New Orleans.


  She says Latino testers experienced at least one type of 'adverse, differential treatment' in 95 of the 225 tests which were performed, or in roughly 42% of the cases.  She says the testers conducted 50 phone tests and 25 in person tests in all three cities.


  She says even real estate agents who were Latino were guilty of discrimination against individuals who 'sounded' like they might be immigrants.


  "There are instances that you find that Latinos are offering less information to a person who may be a Latino applicant for that apartment," she said.


  NCLR says the disturbing results are a direct result of the ongoing debate over illegal immigration, and new laws which are designed to 'crack down' on the activities of undocumented immigrants, who are perceived as committing crimes and snatching taxpayer-funded services.


  "It's very disturbing at this time, with so much anti immigrant sentiment," she said.


  Gonzalez says San Antonio was selected to determine whether even communities with large and well established Hispanic populations were subject to having their attitudes changes about Latino immigrants by the immigration debate.  She says Atlanta was chosen because it's Hispanic population is relatively new, and Birmingham was chosen because Alabama has led the way in passing very strict anti undocumented immigrant legislation.


  "Housing agents were less willing or receptive to scheduling an appointment with Hispanic testers than they were with their matched White testers," Gonzalez said.  "Agents provided Hispanic testers with fewer options than their matched White testers in terms of other homes for sale or number of units available for rent."