Nativism Watch

Anti-immigrant sheriff Thomas Hodgson gets dangerous enforcement powers

Imagine2050 Staff • Nov 22, 2016

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, of Bristol County, Massachusetts, announced yesterday that his office has entered into a 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The agreement refers to Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows certain state and local agencies to function as federal immigration enforcement agents.

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is one of the most strident law enforcement allies of the organized anti-immigrant movement. He has regularly attended events organized by the anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is known for its roots in white nationalism and eugenics and its virulent and false attacks on immigrants, and has become a national proponent of dangerous immigration enforcement measures.

Thus, news of the agreement should not be viewed as a mere cooperation agreement between local and federal law enforcement. It emboldens a deeply anti-immigrant sheriff and his deputies to terrorize immigrant communities.

According to The Herald News, Thomas Hodgson’s office submitted a 287(g) agreement application several months ago and is the third organization in New England to enter into the program. As of September 2015, ICE reportedly entered into 287(g) agreements with 32 enforcement agencies in 16 states.

As the American Immigration Council has noted, the 287(g) program has attracted many critics who claim it “lacks proper federal oversight, diverts resources from the investigation of local crimes, and results in profiling of Latino residents.”

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is Maricopa County, Arizona. A Department of Justice investigation found, among other things, that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s post-287(g) enforcement practices “poisoned the relationship between law enforcement and Latinos, hindering general law enforcement efforts within the Latino community.” The actions of Arpaio’s office have led to increased legal scrutiny, including a racial profiling lawsuit that charged “America’s Toughest Sheriff” with criminal contempt of court last month.


Arpaio has already demonstrated what can come of such draconian and destructive immigration enforcement policies. Hodgson’s past comments and connections give little assurance about what may be in store with his newly-granted 287(g) authority.

  • Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has previously assailed immigrants as “public safety concerns” and supposedly “creating public health hazards.”
  • As mentioned, the sheriff has attended numerous events organized by the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform including iterations of the group’s “Border Summit” and Hold Their Feet to the Fire—FAIR’s annual talk radio event in Washington, D.C.
  • Hodgson has grossly mischaracterized deportation relief programs for DREAMers and parents of U.S. citizens as “the beginning of the destruction of our Democracy.”
  • In 2014, Hodgson organized a press conference and meeting with anti-immigrant Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA). As Imagine2050 reported, Hodgson attempted to mobilize fellow sheriffs to join him in Washington, D.C. with a letter featuring blatantly false statistics about crimes committed by immigrants. Richard Mack, an extremist former sheriff and longtime mainstay of the anti-government right, was among those in attendance.

As uncertainties continue to loom around the new Trump administration, we cannot ignore nativist law enforcement officials like Hodgson, who can put bigotry into practice on a local level.

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