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Study: Immigration Not Sole Issue For Latinos; Environment Matters

PHOTO: A new report digs deeply into public opinion polls to find the environment is a broad concern among America's Latino population and candidates in upcoming midterm elections should take note. Photo courtesy Hispanic Access Foundation.
PHOTO: A new report digs deeply into public opinion polls to find the environment is a broad concern among America's Latino population and candidates in upcoming midterm elections should take note. Photo courtesy Hispanic Access Foundation.
September 19, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - While some might assume immigration dominates the concerns of Virginia Latino voters, a new report shows the environment is high on their agenda. Two groups, Latino Decisions and Hispanic Access Foundation, dug deeply into nine recent public-opinion polls and found nationwide, Latinos overwhelmingly support greater environmental protections and a shift to clean energy. Hispanic Access Foundation president, Maite Arce, says like other communities, Latinos have concerns as diverse as jobs, health care and education.

"But the difference is conservation is definitely a more unanimous issue among the Latino voter community," Arce says.

One notable result, research found more than 70 percent of Latino voters are worried about global warming.

The research found water and air pollution are especially important concerns for a strong majority of Latino voters. The study says those are issues office seekers need to address if they want to connect to those voters. Alfonso Lopez, 49th district Delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates says that closely matches what he's hearing.

"Issues of the environment, preservation, renewable energy, matter a great deal to the Latino community," says Lopez. "In conversations it's usually the third or fourth thing that comes up, not just in Arlington, not just in Fairfax, but in other parts of the state as well."

Lopez notes, poor and minority communities are disproportionately impacted by air-and-water pollution. He says the people he talks to are very concerned. Lopez says, the questions that drive Latino voters are the same as would matter to anyone.

"Education, jobs, the economy, the environment, health care. These are things Latinos care about. Immigration is a very important issue for my community, but it's not the only issue for my community," he says.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA