On December 10th, a group of sheriffs led by one Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts are planning to meet up in Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress and push them to increase border security. Never mind that the border is already more secure than ever before or that the Senate immigration bill would’ve added tens of billions of dollars in additional security — these sheriffs want more to be done, pronto.
As Hodgson told National Review, “We don’t need people to sit down there in Washington and sort of intellectualize what they think is the right thing to do without listening to the people who are dealing with these problems day-in and day-out and know the problems intimately.” Which is hilarious, because Hodgson is not a border sheriff who knows about “these problems day-in and day-out” — Bristol County, MA is more than two thousand miles away from the southern border.
Hodgson’s goal is to bring some 200 sheriffs to Washington, but whatever number he brings will belie the large number of sheriffs and police chiefs who support immigration reform, who realize that demonizing immigrants only serves to sow mistrust between law enforcement and minority communities. That’s part of the reason why so many law enforcement jurisdictions in the last year have stopped automatically honoring ICE hold requests, realizing that immigrants don’t need to be shipped off to immigration officials unless they’ve actually committed a significant crime.
Hodgson, on the other hand, is a sheriff who has previously been affiliated with FAIR — a hate group — who has claimed that immigrants create “public health hazards” and “public safety concerns.” According to Raw 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.
Not to mention that some of the messaging Hodgson using to try and draw support from sheriffs is just wrong. He’s been claiming that “25 people in the United Sates are killed each day by illegal immigrants,” a claim that derives from something the very anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said in 2006. When pressed about the numbers, King only said that he “extrapolated” the claim from a General Accounting Office study that did not distinguish between legal or undocumented immigrants.
Finally, the sheriffs’ welcoming party in Washington is to include Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) — the former of whom is famous for the “DC Madam scandal” and the latter of whom has a long, ugly racial history and an almost-as-long history of connections to extremist anti-immigrant groups like FAIR.