Survey reveals views on Latinos

51 percent of state residents believe Latinos are subject to some discrimination

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YAKIMA — A newly released statewide survey suggests a majority of Washingtonians have generally positive views on the state's growing Latino population, but some stereotypes linger.

The poll, dubbed the 2013 Statewide Survey on Race and Immigration in Washington State, found 51 percent of residents believe Latinos are subjected to some discrimination, while 13 percent said Latinos face "a lot" of discrimination in Washington. Twenty-five percent said "a little" and 4 percent of residents said "none."

The survey was a joint venture by the Seattle public broadcasting affiliate KCTS 9, the University of Washington's Diversity Research Institute and the Seattle-based political opinion research group Latino Decisions. The survey was conducted among more than 800 adult residents between Aug. 27 and Sept. 4.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said residents will learn more from one another and become enriched culturally with the growth of the Latino population, with 58 percent of Eastern Washington residents surveyed agreeing with that sentiment. A vast majority of residents also said they believe Latinos are "honest" and "family-oriented," while largely dismissing the notion that Latinos "take jobs from Americans."

However, slim majorities of state residents also said they believe Latinos are less educated (52 percent) and are more likely to be undocumented immigrants (50 percent statewide, 52 percent in Eastern Washington). A majority of Eastern Washington residents (53 percent) also said they believe Latinos have too many children, as opposed to a minority (43 percent) of those polled in the Puget Sound area.

"The survey shows that the general public continues to hold on to some quite negative stereotypes about our Hispanic population," Matt Barreto, who is co-founder of Latino Decisions and director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race based at the University of Washington, said in a news release. "It's important to know this, because it shows that we still have work to do on race relations across our state."

The study also suggested that residents are willing to consider new funding to improve bilingual education efforts in public schools (46 percent) but 67 percent of state residents support a law making English the official language.

Forty-five percent of respondents favored in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and 73 percent supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country.

The poll results were released ahead of the premiere of a KCTS 9 documentary "Latinos: The Changing Face of Washington," produced by journalist and Yakima Valley native Enrique Cerna. The documentary, which explores the roots and growing presence and contributions of Latinos in the state, available to view online at 7 p.m. Tuesday at www.KCTS9.org/latinos.