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North Carolina district attorney refusing to grant temporary visas to Latino crime victims

BLACKTOWN, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 14:  An auctioneer's gavel is seen prior to the home auction for a four-bedroom house at 230 Blacktown Road on February 14, 2015 in Blacktown, Australia. The Blacktown home sold for AUD$565,000 at auction today, smashing the reserve set at AUD$1. The Sydney home auction clearance rate is expected to remain high following the Reserve Bank's interest rate cut to 2.25 per cent last week.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

BLACKTOWN, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 14: An auctioneer's gavel is seen prior to the home auction for a four-bedroom house at 230 Blacktown Road on February 14, 2015 in Blacktown, Australia. The Blacktown home sold for AUD$565,000 at auction today, smashing the reserve set at AUD$1. The Sydney home auction clearance rate is expected to remain high following the Reserve Bank's interest rate cut to 2.25 per cent last week. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Gaston County's district attorney is coming under criticism for refusing to grant temporary visas for Latino crime victims who are targeted by other Latinos.

The Charlotte Observer reported District Attorney Locke Bell is refusing to let crime victims receive visas as called for in the U visa program, which was created by Congress 15 years ago to encourage immigrants in the country without permission to report crimes to police.

Bell said that if a crime victim is Latino and the accused is also Latino, he will not certify visa applications that come through his office. He said he would only certify cases for Latino immigrants victimized by non-Latino assailants.

UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Deborah Weissman said she believes Bell's actions violate federal laws banning discrimination based on race.

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