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Poll: Environment, Immigration of Equal Importance to Latinos

The effects of agricultural pesticides on farm workers are among the reasons a new poll shows Latinos care deeply about environmental issues. Credit: pgiam/iStockphoto.com.
The effects of agricultural pesticides on farm workers are among the reasons a new poll shows Latinos care deeply about environmental issues. Credit: pgiam/iStockphoto.com.
August 19, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Latinos are extremely concerned about the environment, giving it the same importance as immigration when ranking the issues they care about, according to a new poll.

The survey was released Tuesday by the environmental law firm Earthjustice and the national nonprofit GreenLatinos. Prof. Adrian Pantoja, a pollster and senior analyst with Latino Decisions, said it's a misconception that Latinos only care about immigration, the economy, crime and education. He said the poll results showed that even the traditionally conservative Cuban community supports "green" policies.

"When it comes to the environment," he said, "we found that the Cuban respondents displayed attitudes that were as progressive and pro-environment as those of the Democratic-leaning Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans."

The survey also noted that 60 percent of Latinos believe strong environmental laws are good for the economy and create jobs. It found that Latinos are much more likely than the general U.S. population to agree that climate change is caused by human activity.

Victor Sanchez, president of the Central Florida Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said Latinos make environmental issues a priority because for many, pollution hits close to home.

"Approximately 75 percent of Latinos live in counties that violate federal air-pollution standards," he said. "They work with a lot of pesticides. It's time to raise our voices in Tallahassee."

The poll found that 72 percent of Latinos said they are "somewhat" or "much more likely" to vote for a politician who supports green policies - but it also showed that three-quarters of them never have been contacted by an environmental advocacy group.

The poll is online at earthjustice.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL