Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a message for critics behind a doctored photo that shows him in a Ku Klux Klan outfit holding a noose around a Hispanic man: "you're not going to get rid of me."
"The more they complain, the more I'm going to enforce the law," Arpaio told FOXNews.com.
An immigrants rights activist said he received the photo from an unknown person and sent it out to members of the media to explain the concern from the Arizona Hispanic community about Arpaio's efforts to lock up illegal immigrants.
“Our community feels that he is trying to lynch us,” said Elias Bermudez, a spokesman for Immigrants Without Borders, an immigrants rights advocacy group. "It's just portraying how we feel that he is after us."
Arpaio, known as "America's toughest sheriff," said he believes the photo came directly from Bermudez because he doesn't like that the sheriff enforces the law.
"He’s trying to incite the community by using me as the poster boy," Arpaio said.
Bermudez, born in Mexico who entered the United States in 1967 and became a citizen in 1978, said the photo is in bad taste but it reflects the feeling from the Hispanic community.
"We are fearing the same thing that happened to the African-American community in the 1950s and 1960s," Bermudez said.
Threats aren't new to the sheriff, with about a dozen received in the past that led to convictions. This stunt is part of a bigger picture against his efforts, Arpaio said.
Arpaio said there are 2,000 illegal immigrants out of 10,000 inmates locked up in his jail. The sheriff, known for making inmates wear pink underwear, requires illegal immigrants to learn English and sing "God Bless America" and the National Anthem daily.
Last week, Arpaio banned visits by illegal immigrants to friends and family in his jail. The sheriff also launched a hotline for tips on illegal immigrants, which received about 1,400 calls so far.
In response to criticism that the hotline uses racial profiling, Arpaio said police must have probable cause to check out a tip.
"We don't go around knocking doors down. We have to have probable cause," Arpaio said. "I'm not a racist. I have compassion for the Mexican people."
Bermudez said the hotline scares people in the community and prevents them from calling the police for help.
“A lot of people live in fear of the sheriff,” Bermudez said.
Bermudez wants work visas in the form of legal, permanent residency to allow illegal immigrants to work in the United States amid a debate over what to do about 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.
The illegal immigration problem could be helped with temporary jails set up to lock up illegal immigrants crossing the border, Arpaio said.
"Why would you come over and go to jail when you can't work and send money back?" Arpaio said.
Another 160 deputies recently joined the force after five weeks of training. Arpaio also plans to add deputy sheriffs in his mission to fight illegal immigration by enforcing the law.
"Now I have more resources and I’m going to get more resources dedicated to increase my fight against illegal immigration," Arpaio said.