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NY1 News celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 with this week-long series of reports.

Hispanic Heritage Week 2013: Staten Island's Latino Vote Grows Louder

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TWC News: Hispanic Heritage Week 2013: Staten Island's Latino Vote Grows Stronger
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With the growing Latino population on Staten Island, many voters in the community are watching the mayoral race closely with hopes that their concerns will be brought to the steps of City Hall. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

On the last Thursday of the month for the last three years, several dozen Latinos and African-Americans from Port Richmond gather at St. Philip's Baptist Church for dinner. It's an effort to unify a community that just three years ago was plagued by what some believed were bias crimes against Mexicans at the hands of blacks.

Those days are long gone, and now talk has turned to what's going on in the neighborhood and the city, including the mayor's race.

"Clearly stop-and-frisk has been a topic in this community," said Terry Troia of Project Hospitality.

In the last eight years more than four million people have been stopped and frisked citywide, most of them black and Hispanic. Those who live in Port Richmond count themselves among those numbers and say if they haven't been stopped, they know someone who has. That's why they say the next mayor has to be clear about where he stands on the policy.

"I know that's a very controversial issue where some candidates actually want to end it and others want to improve it. And I just want to see where he goes with that," said Sonia Martinez, a Port Richmond resident.

According to 2010 Census figures, 17 percent of the borough is made up of Latinos - the fastest growing ethnic group on the entire island. Those Hispanics make up nearly 20 percent of the island's registered voters and they also count education as a topic they want to hear more about.

"After school program. Maybe they need. And my family...a lot of things here but I no can do because I no have papers," said Reina Martinez, a Port Richmond resident.

And that, of course, leads to overwhelming concern about immigration reform - a national issue that residents here say must have local support.

"Most of the people here are immigrants. And that DREAM Act is so important that I would say they would have to be in favor in order for them to really get that job," said Esperanza Santiago, a Port Richmond resident.

Organizers say they're planning to invite the mayoral candidates to Port Richmond before Election Day. They say they want to make sure their voices are heard before they head to the polls.

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