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CAPITOL WEEKLY: Latino voters strongly back climate action, park access

Recently, as part of the inaugural Latino Advocacy Week, I had the privilege to virtually witness Latino advocates from all around California share inspiring stories, from being the first in their family to run for office, to fighting against oil and gas drilling near their homes.

It was rewarding to hear passionate leaders discuss the causes they care about, including the environment and climate change.

Latinos have long-been committed to protecting public lands and rivers. Yet, California Latinos are almost twice as likely to live somewhere that is “nature deprived” than white communities, meaning there are far fewer parks, streams, beaches, and other natural places nearby.

Limited access to the outdoors means Latinos have fewer places to hike, swim, and enjoy nature with family. It also means that our communities are more likely to face environmental hazards like pollution, extreme heat, and flooding. This impacts our health and means we’re more vulnerable to climate change.

COVID-19 has further exacerbated these inequities, and our communities are reeling from the ongoing health and economic crises brought on by the pandemic.

As President Biden and California officials take climate action, it’s critical that our leaders increase access to public lands, rivers, and beaches for Latinos.

We know that access to green and blue spaces improves mental and physical health—particularly during the pandemic, when getting outdoors is the safest way to connect with loved ones. We also know that conservation helps mitigate climate change and can aid economic recovery. And now, we have new data from California Latino voters that emphasizes the urgency of these policy opportunities.

A just-released poll shows that Latino voters overwhelmingly support increased conservation measures and strong climate action. When asked to rank different conservation policies, Latino voters gave the highest scores to policies that would create new national parks and other public lands protections. Further, nine in 10 Latinos surveyed want more investments in environmental protections, even in the midst of the pandemic.

Given that California’s outdoor recreation economy generated $57.4 billion in 2019, it’s clear that investing in our public lands and waters benefits economic recovery alongside access to the outdoors and climate resilience.

The results also confirm broad support from the California Latino community for conservation and climate policies advanced by the Biden Administration. Specifically, we see robust endorsement for President Biden’s commitment to protecting at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030, and support for the Administration’s current pause of new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Eighty-two percent of Latinos want to stop or strictly limit oil and gas development on public lands.

Fortunately our leaders are already pushing to improve access to the outdoors and fight climate change. The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, would protect over 1 million acres of public lands and over 500 miles of rivers throughout our state. This includes special places in Northwest California, along the Central Coast, and in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Mountains and Rim of the Valley Corridor. The bill is now in the Senate’s hands.

Latinos have long advocated for more ways to spend time in nature with loved ones. The increasing crises we face from climate change and the pandemic reveal that we must act quickly to protect more of our public lands and rivers. Let’s urge our elected officials to champion conservation, because our health and the future of our planet is at stake.

By Maite Arce for Capitol Weekly 

New HAF Scholarship to Help DACA and Undocumented Students

Scholarship to Award 50 Select Recipients with $500 Each

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Hispanic Access Foundation has launched the application for its “Our DREAMS Scholarship.” Through the scholarship, HAF will award as many as 50 recipients $500 each in monetary relief for filing or renewal fees for their DACA, TPS applications. To be applicable to apply, you need to be eligible for DACA, TPS, or be undocumented while attending undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degrees in an acredited United States college or university.


California Latinos Show Overwhelming Support for Protecting Public Lands and Addressing Climate Change

LOS ANGELES – A statewide survey of California voters, commissioned by the nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation and conducted by David Binder Research, finds that even in the midst of economic challenges posed by the pandemic, an overwhelming majority of voters overall (89%) and Latino voters (92%) believe investments should still be made to protect California’s land, water, and wildlife. The poll also found that Latino voter support for proposals to help achieve that investment and address the climate crisis outpaced that of the overall voting public. 


HAF Celebrates Deb Haaland’s Secretary of Interior Confirmation

Today, the Senate confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary for the Department of Interior within the Biden Administration’s Cabinet. In response to the confirmation, Hispanic Access Foundation’s President and CEO Maite Arce released the following statement:

Not only has Rep. Haaland made history by becoming the first Native American to hold the position of a Cabinet Secretary, but she also has a history of championing conservation issues important to Latinos, such as promoting environmental justice, protecting public lands and waters, preserving cultural heritage and addressing the climate crisis. 


Latest Blog

HLN Members Provide Support to Their Communities During COVID-19 Pandemic

Hispanic Leadership Network members have found themselves on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing spiritual, emotional, and physical support to their congregants and community. Through prayer, a listening ear, and even dropping off groceries or medicine for those in quarantine, they’ve served their community, even while feeling the effects of secondary trauma, such as fatigue and anxiety. Perhaps the seminary did not prepare them for this type of frontline work, but their pastoral hearts have driven them to ensure all those around them are cared for spiritually, emotionally and physically.


Q&A: The Meaning of Advocacy with HAF’s Oceans Advisory Council Member David Riera

As we close out Latino Advocacy Week, Hispanic Access Foundation’s Oceans Advisory Council Member David Riera shares with us his experience and motivation in advocacy efforts. The Oceans Advisory Council works on ocean conservation efforts in the way of research, advocacy efforts, and community engagement. David is a United States Marine Combat Veteran and First Generation Afro-Hispanic college graduate who is driven daily to tackle various social and environmental issues like environmental racism, shark finning, deforestation, deep sea/coastal mining, and other water rights challenges. 


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Top Videos

Held on April 4, 2019, this webinar explored issues around public lands, water and climate, and identifies the health, economic and cultural impact on Latino communities.

August 25, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and to commemorate the occasion, we're looking back at the effort to protect the California desert, which resulted in three new national monuments.

Land, Water y Comunidad explores the relationship Latinos across the nation have with Land and Water Conservation Fund sites – what it means to them, how they enjoy them and the impact it would have if these lands weren’t available.

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