HAZLETON -- "I’ll make a prediction. I think he's gonna be just fine,” said President Donald Trump.
Those were the reassuring words from President Trump at a rally in Arizona just days before he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff convicted of criminal contempt for defying a federal judge's order to stop racial profiling.
In Hazleton, Latino leaders including Amilcar Arroyo say a move like this cannot be overlooked.
“It is a slap in the face to the Hispanic-American people,” said Arroyo of Hazleton.
Arroyo is the editor of a Spanish language newspaper. He emigrated from Peru to the United States when he was 40 years old.
Arroyo worries what a pardon like this could mean for the future of Latino-Americans.
“What’s next if President Trump pardons Arpaio? Is there going to be more racism again? Are police going to stop me because I am Latino?” said Arroyo.
With more than 15,000 Latinos living in Hazleton, Arroyo says the decision to pardon the sheriff by President Trump could alienate the community.
“Recognize that we deserve respect from the president. We are a growing community in this country,” said Arroyo.
Some people in Hazleton don't see a problem with the pardon.
“When Clinton went ahead and pardoned the lad that had more offenses against him than anybody in the country, I think he (Trump) should have one of a minor problem,” said Jack Zaylskus of Hazleton.
“I like what Trump does for this country. Some of it is eyebrow raising, but for the most part, Trump is good for the country,” said Joseph Rapach of Hazleton.
Newswatch 16 reached out to Congressman Lou Barletta, the former mayor of Hazleton. So far, his office has not returned our request for comment on the pardon.