Sheriff's office denies promoting nativist agenda

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 29, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson's office has denied allegations from a Chicago-based advocacy group that Hodgson is promoting an anti-immigration agenda.

In a recent report, the Center for New Community accused hate groups of recruiting sheriffs across the country to promote anti-immigration agendas. Hodgson was named in the report.

In the report, the center details how the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — allegedly founded by white nationalist John Tanton — courts sheriffs who are sympathetic to the anti-immigration movement and can "target and intimidate immigrant communities." FAIR culminated its efforts with a sheriffs' meeting in Massachusetts, at which Hodgson attended, the report claims.

"This is something that groups like this say. There's no basis whatsoever," said Hodgson via phone. "Anyone that knows me knows that I'm someone who feels that no one group in this country is superior to another, whether race or creed."

Hodgson confirmed that he had been involved with FAIR for many years, but said that no racist agenda has ever come to his attention.

The report says that "[Hodgson] has become one of the anti-immigration movement's most visible law enforcement allies and a fixture at its events."

Hodgson enrolled the Bristol County department in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program in January. The program, completed in May, allows trained officers to conduct interviews and investigations of the immigration status of those in the county’s prison system, Hodgso said in a prior interview. He added that the measure would help the department tackle illegal immigration in southeastern Massachusetts.

"We don't want any legal residents to feel that they could have done it illegally," Hodgson said this week.

Hodgson also proposed at his inauguration that inmates build President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. The project would run through a prison work program he titled N.I.C.E. (National Inmates' Community Endeavors), which allows inmates work on community service or infrastructure projects.

Hodgson has been sheriff since 1997. In the last election, he ran unopposed.

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