MCSO not allowed to participate in Hispanic Women's Conference

MCSO not allowed to participate in Hispanic Women's Conference

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PHOENIX -

It's the largest gathering of its kind in the country. The National Hispanic Women's Conference happens next week at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio wanted the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to participate. But the group says no thanks.

The conference begins next Thursday. The sheriff's office thought it would be welcome to participate. But that turned out not to be the case.

MCSO says the group accepted its $800 entry fee to attend the convention on August 29th -- but returned it September 11th.

"I have been reaching out more or less to the Hispanic community and I am a little discouraged that this lady turned me down, sent the check back, because she thinks I am too high profile when you are dealing with the Hispanic community," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Organizers say the sheriff's frequent workplace raids have soured them on including  MCSO in their conference.

"He has taken an active campaign to make folks like myself, Arizona-born Latinas, feel second class citizens and we don't take that lightly, and now that he wants to mend fences doesn't necessarily mean we have to play along with him," said Leticia De La Vara, National Hispanic Women's Conference.

The sheriff's office says it wanted to participate in part to recruit new employees, saying right now 30 percent of its 3,200 employees are Hispanic.

"I think it is great he has such a high percentage of Latinos. Latinos make up a large portion of this state and they should be treated as such. And I hope he takes this opportunity to learn why Latinas have an issue with him being at this conference."

The sheriff says while he is sympathetic to Hispanic people he does not support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, labeling it amnesty, and he has not come out in support of the Dream Act.

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