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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

Introducing the 2021 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda

Ensuring a living wage and safe working conditions and reforming immigration laws are among the top policy concerns of Latino voters and Latino leaders in Colorado, according to results of the first-ever Colorado Latino Policy Agenda released today.

The annual Colorado Latino Policy Agenda will provide ongoing insight each fall for elected officials, community leaders, media, and others into the demographic makeup and views of Latinos in Colorado on pressing political, policy, and other issues in the state, by region.

This report was published by Voces Unidas de las Montañas in partnership with the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus, and Protégete of Conservation Colorado. Other partners include the Political Science Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver and BSP Research.

“The Colorado Latino Policy Agenda offers an opportunity for elected officials and community leaders to explore areas of agreement, work to meet the diverse needs of Latinos in the different regions of the state, and design and deliver appropriate and timely policy solutions for the state’s growing Latino population,” said Dusti Gurule, Executive Director of COLOR.

Intended for use by lawmakers and other officials in the year ahead and as a baseline for future efforts, the 2021 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda was informed by three research tools:

  • A statewide poll of 1,000 Latino adults was conducted via phone and online from August 16 - September 1, 2021;

  • Responses from 168 Latino community leaders in an online survey this fall; and

  • In-person listening sessions were held in Greeley, Glenwood Springs, and Pueblo.

“This research provides unprecedented insight into the issues that are important to Latino voters and Latino community members —whether they’re from the Western Slope, the Denver-metro area or other communities east of the Continental Divide,” said Alex Sánchez, Executive Director of Voces Unidas. “While there are issues that unite us — we also see examples of issues with different intensity at the local level.”

Other top issues from the statewide poll of 1,000 Latino adults include improving wages and benefits for seasonal workers and taking aggressive steps to address drought and clean water access. Among Latino leaders, top issues included increasing access to mental health services and decreasing the cost of college tuition.

Generally, respondents to both the statewide poll and the Latino leaders survey support public policies that expand access to services and resources to a wider segment of the state’s population. This includes high support for expanding access to health insurance for Colorado residents, ensuring access to safe abortion and reproductive health, and ensuring all state residents have access to high-speed internet.

Latino residents and community leaders are also very concerned with climate change and strongly support policies that will transition the state toward clean energy production. There is similarly high support for providing information and resources to ensure that Latinos and other disproportionately impacted communities are included in decisions made to address climate change and to promote environmental justice.

“Latinos across the state are growing political power and it’s essential that policymakers listen to our community priority issues and craft solutions that reflect our needs and bring our voices to the decision-making table,” said Beatriz Soto, Director of Protégete for Conservation Colorado.

As highlighted in a separate release in October, the research makes clear that COVID-19 has devastated Colorado’s Latino community. Nearly half of all respondents to the statewide poll of Latino adults and the survey of 168 Latino leaders across the state reported that they lost a friend or family to COVID-19. The survey research also provides insights regarding the economic challenges that the Latino community in the state has faced and continues to face during the pandemic.

“Policymakers should look to the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda’s findings and work to more directly engage the Latino community in policy decisions,” said Rob Preuhs, Chair of the Political Science Department at MSU Denver. “The research shows that Latinos are highly interested in being more engaged in the political process but often feel that the voice of the Latino community is excluded from important political decisions.”

During the listening sessions held this summer and fall in Greeley, Glenwood Springs, and Pueblo, it was clear that issues pertaining to undocumented immigrants exist across communities. Participants in Glenwood Springs and Pueblo also identified education issues among their top selections, while environmental issues were among the top selections in Pueblo and Greeley.

“This research is the first of its kind -- never before in Colorado have we received such nuanced data about the needs and priorities of the Latino community. This data will not only inform our Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus policy priorities as we look ahead to addressing systemic inequities in the next legislative session -- but we expect our colleagues at the Capitol, and decision-makers at all levels of government to consider the needs, priorities, and growing political power of Latino communities across Colorado," Sen. Robert Rodriguez, Co-Chair of the Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus, a nonprofit organization.

Voces Unidas is committed to publishing ongoing research about Latinos in the central mountain region. This report will be annual.



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