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20-Sheriff Gathering Another Bust for Anti-Immigrant Crowd

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Last month, eager conservative media reported about an upcoming gathering of sheriffs who were coming to Washington, DC on December 10 (yesterday) to speak out against President Obama’s executive action and call for more border security.  “Sheriffs Plan Massive Gathering in Washington to Oppose Executive Amnesty,” read the headline at National Review, noting that event organizers were trying to recruit at least 200 sheriffs and that they believed “the American people will rally around the sheriff’s stand.”

Fast forward to December 10, and we see yet another example of immigration reform opponents failing to turn out mass support for their extremism.  Only 20 sheriffs came to town yesterday.  They held a closed-door press conference, private except for some press, with Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA).  There was no mass rally; a handful of supporters organized by NumbersUSA and others to welcome the sheriffs ended up waiting outside for over an hour in the wind and cold before realizing that the sheriffs were already inside the Russell Senate building:


Here are some of the anti-immigrant sheriffs who came to town:

  • Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of Bristol County, MA, one of the organizers of the whole affair.  Hodgson is affiliated with FAIR — a hate group — and has claimed that immigrants create “public health hazards” and “public safety concerns.”  According toRaw Story, Hodgson is known as a hardliner in Bristol, instituting chain gangs in his jails.  During his tenure inmates have rioted twice over living conditions, with a judge once criticizing him for not giving inmates adequate access to bathrooms.
  • Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, AZ, who reportedly threatened his ex-lover with deportation after the latter refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship.
  • Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, MD, who is also associated with FAIR and was recently chastised by a federal court for illegally detaining a Latina immigrant.
  • Apparently not there was the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, who is probably busy with his own legal problems and facing contempt of court at home.

Yesterday’s gathering of anti-immigrant sheriffs may be the exception rather than the norm when it comes to how lawmakers feel about immigration reform and executive action.  A press call yesterday organized by the National Immigration Forum in fact featured a number of law enforcement leaders speaking about the benefits of executive action in their communities (you can find out more about the Bibles, Badges, and Business effort here).  And this year saw a veritable chain reaction of local and state law enforcement agencies announce their refusal to automatically honor ICE holds for detained immigrants.