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Latinos: The Changing Face of Washington


The Documentary(Watch Full Documentary)    (Watch on YouTube)

KCTS 9's Enrique Cerna, the son of Mexican immigrants, traces his Yakima Valley roots and explores the growing presence and contributions of Latinos who are helping to shape the future of Washington state.


    Mi familia

    In 1946, producer Enrique Cerna’s parents left Mexico for a new life in Washington state. Like many Mexican immigrants, they were looking for new opportunities and a better life for their children. Historian Erasmo Gamboa says they were part of the foundation of Washington’s Latino community that has contributed greatly to the state’s history and its economic growth.


  • Si tenemos las ganas

    Political trailblazer Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney is profiled along with her journey from life as a migrant worker to becoming one of only three Latinas to serve in Washington’s legislature.


  • Gonzalez is an American name

    Although the Latino population is increasing here, there is a dearth of Latino political representation. Is race a factor?


  • Come back. Give back.

    The Toppenish School District is now more than 80 percent Latino. Yet, it is defying the nation’s high Latino drop-out rate. Find out how the district and its homegrown Latino Superintendent are making it happen.


  • Musica, Vida y Vino

    At the young age of 28, Victor Palencia is head of winemaking for J and S Crushing, one of the state’s largest winemakers. Follow his journey from farmworker in the vineyards to becoming one of the most prominent winemakers in Washington.


  • I’m a Dreamer

    Jessica Esparza is a promising, but undocumented college student. She hopes that immigration reform will give her the opportunity to reach her goal of becoming a registered nurse and a citizen of the United States.


  • Adelante

    As the Latino population continues to increase, what will be the impact on our state politically, educationally, economically, culturally, and socially?




Hispanic Heritage Month on PBS

KCTS 9 Media Lab - Latinos Story Project
Click here to see the full line up of PBS programs celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.


Producer's Note

Yakima Valley Newspaper Article

In 1957, The Yakima Sunday Herald wrote this article about Enrique’s grandparents. View as PDF

It was part of my banter with my close Anglo friends. I used to joke with them that one day Latinos like me would be a force. We would laugh ﹘ a lot. Now, it is no joke.

Times are changing and so is the demographic make up of America. The Pew Research Hispanic Center found that from 2000 to 2011 the Latino population in the U. S. rose 47 percent from 35.2 million to 51.9 million. The 2010 U.S. Census found that the state of Washington’s Latino population grew an astonishing 71 percent in the last decade.

When my parents came to the state of Washington in 1946 with my oldest sister and two older brothers, the idea that Latinos would be a political force seemed unlikely. As the Latino population continues to increase, what will be the impact on our state politically, educationally, economically, culturally and socially? Who are the trailblazers who have led the way? Who are the up and coming voices in pursuit of the American dream that believe the demographic shift will benefit Washington state and the rest of the country?

As a native of this state, the son of Mexican immigrants and a journalist who has covered politics and social issues for nearly four decades, I examine those questions in Latinos: The Changing Face of Washington. The one-hour documentary takes viewers through my own family history as my parents migrated to Washington in the 1940s along with many other Latino families in search of a better life. Historian Erasmo Gamboa helps us understand the migration, how it helped Washington’s economy during World War II and set the foundation for what would become the largest ethnic minority population in Washington state.

About the Producer

The son of Mexican immigrants, Enrique Cerna was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. Enrique joined KCTS 9 in January, 1995. He has anchored current affairs programs, moderated statewide political debates, and produced and reported stories for national PBS programs as well as local documentaries on such topics as juvenile justice, salmon recovery, and civil rights.

Enrique has earned five Northwest region Emmy awards and numerous other honors. In June, he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle for his work as a television professional.



KCTS9/Latino Decisions/DRI Poll Results

Poll Results Announced!

“Competing views—some positive, some negative—about significant demographic shifts in the state present its voters and its leaders with a choice as to which view will drive our politics and policy making,” said Dr. Luis Ricardo Fraga, Russell F. Stark University Professor and Director of the Diversity Research Institute at the University of Washington.

KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna breaks down the poll results with Latino Decisions co-founder Matt Barreto and the Director of the University of Washington’s Diversity Research Institute, Luis Fraga.

View PDF of Full Results (Updated 9/13/2013)

About the Poll
An important element of this comprehensive, multi-platform project is the KCTS 9/Latino Decisions/DRI Poll, which will provide new, relevant data about race relations in the country and in Washington state. The poll will sample 800 adults in Washington state on questions regarding government intervention, attitudes toward distinct racial ethnic groups, discrimination, immigration and education.

The KCTS 9/Latino Decisions/DRI Poll is a collaboration of KCTS 9; the Diversity Research Institute (DRI), Dr. Luis R. Fraga, Ph.D., Director; and the polling firm Latino Decisions, Dr. Matthew A. Barreto, Ph.D., Co-founder. DRI is based at the University of Washington.


The Latinos Story Project

KCTS 9 Media Lab - Latinos Story Project
The Latinos Story Project takes a closer look into the Latino culture through stories of traditions and identity from a diverse group of people including painters, students and musicians. Learn More. Watch Now.


Washington State Latinos Stats


Latino Americans - PBS Documentary

Watch LATINO AMERICANS, a landmark six-hour documentary from PBS featuring interviews with nearly 100 Latinos and more than 500 years of history.