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New crime hotline for Spanish speakers in South Carolina

In what members of the South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council call a victory for Hispanics, Spanish-speaking immigrants living in South Carolina now have a special telephone hotline to report crimes. The hotline, called S.C. Crime Stoppers, is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by Spanish-speaking operators.

The telephone service is anonymous and immigrants are assured of their privacy and security when reporting criminal activities. No person calling the Crime Stoppers hotline (888-274-6372) will be asked questions about their immigration status.

The hotline was announced in the wake of South Carolina's strict new law that requires police to verify the immigration status of those detained or accused of criminal offenses, including traffic violations.

Sheriffs from around the state said that the new Spanish-speaking hotline was developed in effort to help Hispanics who are victims of crimes and don't report them for fear of being questioned about their immigration status.

The Richland County sheriff, admitting that some of the state's police forces do not agree with the new immigration law, said that their main priority is to keep Hispanics safe.

S.C. Crime Stoppers has been active for 29 years and has helped police detain 21,000 criminals at the state level. The 2010 United States Census indicates that Hispanics make up 5.1 percent of the 4.6 million people living in South Carolina. This represents an increase of 2.4 percent since the 2000 census.

Activists in the Latino community applaud the new telephone crime reporting hotline, saying that it could give Hispanics the security they need to report crimes. But the owner of San Jose Mexican Restaurant in Columbia said that right now many Hispanics are worried about the effects the new law may have on their community.

Of course, undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes should not delay in reporting the crimes to police, but the hesitation is understandable. This hotline appears to be a safe and secure way to report crimes without having to expose any personal information. Again, the S.C. Crime Stoppers phone number is 888-274-6372.

Source: Fox News Latino, "South Carolina Opens Spanish-Language Phone Line to Report Crimes in Wake of Immigration Law," 7/11/2011.

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