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SALT LAKE CITY -- The debate over immigration reform has stirred strong emotions nationwide, but at times that emotion can turn into hate directed at those speaking out on either side. Some of the people KSL has interviewed on the topic have been targeted.

We continue to follow the immigration debate, and now some of the people we've interviewed say they've received e-mails and messages that cross the line.

University of Utah Associate Professor Theresa Martinez was one of those people KSL interviewed. She received an e-mail full of things too graphic for us to show.

"I would want to sit down with everybody and hear what they have to say, but sometimes these e-mails, they're like they don't really want to listen," Martinez said.

The sender of the e-mail didn't sign their name, and based on what they wrote, Martinez says they didn't want to have an actual discussion about immigration reform. The author wanted only to intimidate her.

"I would hope that we can all come to the table as human beings who care about each other. Instead you get this fear, fearful, angry, vicious bullying kind of reaction," Martinez said.

The e-mail was one of many she received. And she's not the only person getting hate mail after taking a public position about immigration.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has been outspoken about Arizona's immigration law. According to the Deseret News, he too has received hateful e-mails, phone calls and messages. One e-mail in particular had the same racially motivated and hateful words as the e-mail Martinez received.

In response, Burbank said, "It's horrible. It's so bigoted and biased. It ranks up there with any [bad e-mail] I've ever seen. A lot of people say it's about criminals. When you look at the e-mails, it's about race and hatred of race. To say it's anything but that is just not accurate. It's disheartening."

Martinez agrees.

"What I really like to hear is people who are willing to talk about how to make things better and find solutions. That's the kind of voice I want to listen to," she said.

Burbank says the hateful messages have increased since he went to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Attorney General to discuss immigration reform.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg

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