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BURLINGTON, N.C. — The Alamance County sheriff has called off plans to search for illegal immigrants suspected of voter registration fraud.
Sheriff Terry Johnson said last week his deputies would seek out illegal aliens, specifically Hispanics, suspected of registering to vote by using false documentation. He said Monday he doesn’t have the resources for such an operation.
“At this point, I don’t intend to go any further,” Johnson said. “If I had the time and the manpower, I would seek these individuals out.”
Johnson told Alamance County commissioners last week that illegal immigrants used false documents to obtain driving licenses and, at the same time, registered to vote.
He said he sent a “sample list” of 125 Hispanics registered to vote to the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that the agency could only confirm that 38 were in the country legally.
He said the rest either were either legal residents, had given false names or are illegal aliens.
Johnson said he now intends to take the information to lawmakers.
“I’m going to pursue this in my own way,” he said. “I want to bring this to the attention of the legislators. I’m going to see what they do.
“It’s a big flaw in the system and that’s what I’m hollering about,” Johnson said. “It’s time somebody took a stand not against the Hispanics, but against voter fraud. “Our political system is using the Hispanic people. I’m just telling it like it is.”
Hispanic advocates said having a flawed system does not justify the sheriff’s actions.
“The sheriff has asked for a list of those who have Hispanic last names and then he is assuming that group is committing fraud,” said Angel Romero, director of Centro: La Comunidad, a Burlington nonprofit that helps the Hispanic community. “If the people in that list are citizens and they are being investigated, that is worrisome.”
Andrea Bazan-Manson, executive director of El Pueblo, a Latino advocacy organization based in Raleigh, said members of her group plan to call registered Hispanic voters in Alamance County to ensure they vote.
“It is 2004 and yet, some people may not feel as comfortable to vote as others because of being Latino or because of what they see in the news,” Bazan-Manson said.
(Posted on October 12, 2004)