Latinos suffer discrimination when they try to get a home in three metropolitan areas of the Southern United States, in part due to state regulations that invite discriminatory treatment of people who look "foreign," according to a report released Monday by the National Council of La Raza.

The report, "Puertas Cerradas: Housing Barriers for Hispanics," analyzed conditions in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Antonio, Texas.

Researchers from the Equal Rights Center used what is called a "matched pair" methodology: having Hispanic and White non-Hispanic testers with virtually identical profiles interact with housing agents in a variety of situations.

"Unfortunately, our investigation discovered that Latinos are still contending with discrimination in their home and rental search - discrimination that is prohibited by the federal Fair Housing Act," La Raza's associate director for Housing and Wealth-Building Initiatives, Lindsay Daniels, said.

The Latino testers encountered at least one type of "adverse, differential treatment" in 95 of the 225 tests - 42 percent - conducted in the three cities.

In the rental of an apartment, for example, "agents quoted higher fees, costs and/or more extensive application requirements to Hispanic testers than to their matched White testers," La Raza said.

The lack of comprehensive immigration reform has encouraged a host of local and state measures to combat illegal immigration - especially in the southern part of the country - which in practice "are inviting discrimination" against anyone who looks "different." EFE