WASHINGTON (CNN) – Latinos were once unfamiliar to more than half of all Americans, but a new national poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed now say they have a lot or some contact with Latinos in places where they live, work or shop.
Sixty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning say they have some or a lot of contact with Latinos. That's up 15 points from 1990.
"The jump in contact is a result of the growing number of Latinos and their growing presence in all 50 states," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But familiarity is not the same as knowledge."
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that roughly six in 10 Latinos were born in the U.S.
"But nearly half of people we questioned said they assume that Latinos who they have never met are immigrants, and one in five believe they are illegal immigrants," adds Holland.
That may be one reason why nearly nine in 10 surveyed believe that the Census should ask people whether they are in the country legally when they go door to door next April.
According to the poll, 57 percent of all Americans say that Latinos face a lot or some discrimination that hurts their chances to get good jobs. That's down 9 points from two decades ago, but is slightly higher than the 53 percent who now feel that way about job discrimination against African-Americans.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 16-18, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.