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Calling all Latinos: These Georgia organizations want you to fill out this survey

Puente para la Gente, or Bridge for the people, aims to dive deep into the legislative priorities for Georgia's Latinos. Here's how you can fill out the survey.

ATLANTA — As Georgia inches toward a new legislative session, advocates want to ensure the priorities of the state's growing Latino communities are properly reflected - and they're hoping a new culturally relevant survey can help.

GALEO, GALEO Impact Fund, the Latinx Alliance, are among the organizations that have formed Puente para la Gente, or Bridge for the People. The initiative aims to collect information on the more than 1 million Georgians who identify as Latino and "speak truth to power with data points," and clue in lawmakers on what the changing and growing community is prioritizing,

"It is probably the first time in probably two decades that any initiative to this scale has ever been done," Alba Villarreal with GALEO said. "It is a survey meant to capture the true opinions of the Latino community in Georgia."

Latinos are the third-largest racial or ethnic group in Georgia, making up a little more than 10% of the population, according to the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute

Take the Puente Survey here

Data shows that Latinos in Georgia are young and that the community is diversifying. With the median age sitting around 26 years old, the state is now seeing more Puerto Ricans, South Americans and Guatemalans. Villarreal says the Puente Survey reflects these changing demographics, even offering the survey in several languages.

"Latinos aren't a monolith who can only speak Spanish and English," she said. "So it's super important that we provide this survey for everyone so that no one is discouraged - because we want to hear everyone's voice."

The survey itself is anonymous and asks how one identifies, their political leaning - not simply their party affiliation, issues for Georgia politicians to address, how they learn about news and politics and factors addressing quality of life.

"Our end goal is to create a legislative report that we can turn into the Georgia State Capitol and Gov. Brian Kemp so that representatives are aware of what their constituents want in Georgia, especially what their Latino constituents want," Villarreal said. "There's a lot of speculation, a lot of data taken from national pollsters that are not representative of Georgia Latinos." 

She emphasized that this poll isn't a political one - that it's meant to learn more about how Georgia lawmakers can impact the community and use responses as a guidepost when addressing the needs and values of Latinos in the state. The survey works to limit language, documentation and other barriers that could keep people from being civically engaged.

"Most of the time these barriers just kind of discourage our community from even speaking out," she said. "We're different in that we know our community, we're part of the community - it's not other people telling us how to reach out. It's us working with experienced pollsters and other organizations to ensure that we're doing the correct survey in the best methods possible."

Villarreal is encouraging other people to take part, adding that the more responses they receive the better advocates and lawmakers can address what matters to them most.

"We want to make sure that everyone who is in Georgia, who is Latino, who contributes to the diversifying society that we have here in the state is able to have their voice heard," she said. "There's only so much that we can do when we're not heard."

People can fill out the Puente Survey until Sept. 17. As a reminder, Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 16.

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