Benton Franklin community survey shows Hispanic discrimination - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton Franklin community survey shows Spanish speakers feel discriminated against

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- 1,808 people across the Tri-Cities filled out a community health survey this summer, and many of them went beyond just talking about health care.

71 people took the survey in Spanish, and the third biggest concern they mentioned was discrimination in Benton and Franklin counties. 50.1%, 31people wrote the answer in. "For community concerns, crime and gangs were amount the top two in the English speaking respondents. But discrimination kind of popped up in the Spanish respondents," said Carol Moser, the Executive Director of the Benton-Franklin Health Alliance.

But that's not all, "Most of the people who filled out the hand survey made less than 30 thousand dollars so I don't think we got a good overall basis of the Hispanic community," Moser said.

Martin Valadez, the President of the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says he thinks there are some misconceptions about the Latino community in the United States.

"All Latinos were born abroad, all Latinos don't speak English, most Latinos are undocumented , which are misconceptions," Valadez said of the misconceptions between the cultures.

Currently the chamber has 150 business members, half of which are Hispanic, the other half companies that want to understand the culture better. Valadez says one problem is that the Hispanic community in the Tri-Cities grew very fast in a short amount of time, doubling in both Benton and Franklin Counties in the course of the last 20 years. He says many are still adjusting to the cultural differences. He says for those who don't speak English, it's not because they don't want to learn but simply because there are restraints.

"No one comes to this country and leaves behind their family, their culture, and doesn't want to succeed. It's difficult to learn another language as a child, imagine how difficult it is as an adult, " said Valdez. Valadez says some people who come here work many jobs and don't have the time to learn English, often times there are not enough ESL programs available.

"I think most people in the Tri-Cities are very compassionate, very understanding, but there have been at least certain sectors that are anti-immigrant. And in the Tri-Cities, the way people read anti-immigrant means anti-Latino, whether people are citizens or not.," Valadez said.