Several Republican congressional candidates have expressed their support passing a tough immigration law in North Carolina similar to the one that was recently passed in Arizona.
That law requires police to check a person's immigration status if there's "reasonable suspicion" the person is an illegal immigration.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio defended the law at a GOP fundraising dinner Saturday night, and said he'd like to see it expanded to other states.
"I think it's important to send a message to other states. It's important to let the country know that illegal immigration is still a serious matter," said Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County.
Arizona's law was debated in front of the United States Supreme Court last week.
The Court will rule on the law's constitutionality later this summer. Arpaio said immigration checks are performed only if someone is already detained for another offense.
"We don't go around stopping people on the street corner because they look like they're from another country," he said.
9th District congressional candidate Jim Pendergraph is a former sheriff, and said he supports Arpaio's tough stance on illegal immigration. Arpaio has endorsed Pendergraph for the hotly-contested congressional seat.
"Enforce the law. Arrest offenders that are here in this country illegally and put them through the deportation process," Pendergraph said.
Candidate Andy Dulin also supports the Arizona law.
"I like Sheriff Joe, I believe in him when it comes to immigration," Dulin said. "We need to protect our borders, and send illegal aliens who break our laws home before they have another meal here."
Many Charlotte-area Latinos said Arizona's law legalizes discrimination and harassment.
"It shouldn’t be a crime to go to work it shouldn’t be a crime to try to feed your family," said protestor Domenic Powell.
The federal government is investigating Sheriff Arpaio for civil rights violations.
"People are stopped for looking Latino or having Spanish last names," said UNCC student Elisa Benitez, who protested Arpaio's appearance at the Republican fundraiser.
The Department of Justice said Latino drivers in Arizona are "four to nine times more likely to be stopped", and that Latinos are often "stopped on the basis of their appearance."
"We have a couple incidents, it's not systemic towards our agency," Arpaio said when asked about the federal report.
Pendergraph said illegal immigration is a burden to taxpayers and threatens American jobs. He wants to see a similar law passed in Congress.
"I think it's still a very important issue to a lot of people," he said.
Arizona's law is currently not being enforced until the Supreme Court determines if it’s constitutional.
9th District candidates Robert Pittenger and Edwin Peacock did not return messages Saturday night.