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Study: Latin Americans Applying to Work Legally in U.S Face Bias

People from Latin American countries wanting to take the legal route to working in the U.S. are rejected at greater rates than those from Asian countries and Canada, a recent study shows.

Latin Americans are less likely to get certification to work legally in the United States than immigrants from other regions, according to the study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University researchers.

Over more than three years, the federal government approved 67 percent of labor certification applications filed for Latin Americans. That compares to 91 percent of Asian applicants and 90 percent of Canadians,

Such disparity was found in jobs from information technology to cook, despite researchers controlling for differences in job titles and salaries offered the potential workers, the companies making the offers and applicants' visa histories.

But the disparities disappeared in cases when officials looked more closely at supporting documents, said Ben Rissing, a visiting associate professor at Brown. Rissing said applicant reviewers' decisions could be shaped by stereotypes or other public data, such as Department of Homeland Security information showing 32 percent of immigrants deemed inadmissible to the U.S. are Mexican.

Potential employers must obtain labor certifications, which verify a U.S. citizen could not be found for the job.

The study was published in the American Sociological Review.

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