Latino Journal: Sheriff’s public racism against Hispanic immigrants causes stir

Latino Journal

Sheriff’s public racism against Hispanic immigrants causes stir

For years, Sheriff Steve Bizzell watched the number of illegal immigrants in his rural county skyrocket — and with it, he says, residents’ fear that the newcomers were responsible for more than their share of crime.

So he helped make North Carolina the first state where every county can team with federal authorities to train local officers to identify and track jailed illegal immigrants, speeding up the deportation process.

But in a newspaper interview last month, Bizzel complained that “Mexicans are trashy” and pointed to several children playing and said “All they do is work and make love.” Though he quickly apologized, his contrition wasn’t enough to ward off critics who call his comments evidence that the nation’s increasingly popular efforts to enforce immigration statutes locally have nothing to do with law and order.

“The chief law enforcement officer is demonstrating his racism in public, and he’s allowing his officers to do the same,” said Tony Asion, the executive director of nonprofit advocacy group El Pueblo and a retired Delaware state trooper. “It gives them the green light to treat Latinos any way.”

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