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New Report Highlights Ties Between Anti-Immigrant Groups and County Sheriffs

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A Recording of Today’s Call Can Be Found Here.

County sheriffs have become prominent advocates for tough immigration enforcement, from increased incarceration to Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 “show me your papers” law. The sheriffs speak as experts in public safety, which makes their views on immigration appear more authoritative in the eyes of many policy-makers and the public.

This afternoon, the Center for New Community (CNC) unveiled a new report showing how county sheriffs across the country have collaborated with well-known anti-immigrant groups to disseminate false and misleading information. The report shows how these groups have actively recruited sheriffs to implement anti-immigrant policies and practices in their jurisdictions and to advocate for anti-immigrant legislation, as documented in internal emails gathered from multiple public records requests.

The report can be found here.

A recording of today’s call can be found here.

Lindsay Schubiner, Advocacy Director at the Center for New Community (CNC) said:

Over the past five years, anti-immigrant groups have taken their vitriol directly to law enforcement officials, particularly sheriffs, who can expand the boundaries of mass deportation with little oversight. These officials can direct local resources toward policies that split up families, intimidate survivors of violence, and even deport people to their deaths. As public servants, sheriffs have an obligation to treat all residents in their jurisdictions fairly. Sheriffs who publicly ally with extremist anti-immigrant groups are aligning themselves with forces that target immigrants and communities of color, promote unconstitutional detention practices, and support racial profiling.

Ryan Lenz, Senior Investigative Reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said:

We’ve been looking at the increasing radicalization of county sheriffs for a number of years. The idea that sheriffs are ultimate arbiters of the law is part of a long tradition of right wing thought. The recruitment detailed in this report is not coincidental, and shows the rise of county supremacy ideology, providing sheriffs with the twisted logic that as officers, they are above the law. Perhaps more than any other sheriff in public memory, Sheriff Richard Mack has opened the door for county supremacy. It is through this ideology that anti-immigrant groups have found a window of a recruitment. 

Sarang Sekhavat, Federal Policy Director at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said:

I think this report is well timed considering America’s political climate and recent developments in Massachusetts. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson claimed he was bound by oath to obey immigration law. However, the state’s highest court found that federal and state law don’t grant state officials the authority to enforce national immigration laws. The sheriff has also argued that officials in cities that do not honor detainers are in violation of federal law and should be charged criminally and locked up. He made this outlandish claim despite the fact that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, along with several federal courts, have repeatedly said that detainers are strictly voluntary requests. The sheriff’s actions and rhetoric hamper the efforts for law enforcement agents to work with their communities. Police can’t do their jobs if victims and  witnesses are scared to talk to them.