Boston, MA; New Haven, CT – As DHS abuses are exposed in Portland, and reports of deadly conditions continue in ICE detention camps, groups in Massachusetts and Connecticut are calling on their representatives in Congress to take immediate action to prevent more harm, and cut off all funds in the region to the nativist Sheriff of Bristol County, MA – Thomas Hodgson – in order to protect the lives of people in his and DHS custody.
On Wednesday in New Haven, CT, activists and family members of immigrant detainees delivered a letter signed by 50 organizations, primarily from Connecticut and Massachusetts, to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro highlighting the many abuses committed by Sheriff Hodgson and his known ties to white supremacist groups. New Haven-based ULA-CT explained that many Connecticut residents detained by ICE are transferred to the immigrant prison in Bristol County run by Hodgson.
That same day, many of the Bristol County and Boston labor, faith, and civil rights groups that signed and supported the letter joined a press conference laying out the various abuses carried out by the nativist Sheriff, and called on their Congressional representatives to shut off DHS funds that enable the abuses taking place “from Portland to Plymouth.”
“My question for our legislators is at what point do you stop trusting this man with our tax dollars? How high must these abuses pile up before you start recognizing Sheriff Hodgson is a dangerous man who shouldn’t be trusted with people’s lives,” asked Rafael Pizarro of the Bristol County for Correctional Justice Coalition.
“That time has long passed. We demand that the federal tax money provided to him are shut off. And we implore our elected officials to defund hate, defund DHS, and stop Hodgson,” said Pizarro.
Dr. LaSella Hall, President of the New Bedford NAACP highlighted the long history of abuses committed by Sheriff Hodgson, “For over two decades the sheriff has consistently violated the rights of everyone held in jails and prisons in Bristol County. The May 1st incident which is currently under investigation by the Massachusetts AG is merely the latest in a long series of outrages.”
“No one should be surprised. Sheriff Hodgson sits on the board of FAIR, an openly white supremacist organization. His best friend in the White House is Stephen Miller. There is a direct line of white supremacy and oppression that runs straight from the White House to our local county jail,” explained Dr. LaSella Hall.
Brian Concannon, a Massachusetts-based human rights attorney and Executive Director of Project Blueprint, made clear that Congressional representatives were failing to provide even basic oversight and accountability of DHS in the region, which US law would mandate had it occurred abroad. “No doubt if this sheriff was in another country, we would be shutting off funds under the US Leahy law,” explained Concannon.
Under federal law, Congress is required to cut US foreign assistance funds for police officers and units where there is evidence of grave human rights violations. No such actions have taken place for the myriad abuses committed by Sheriff Hodgson, or his ties to extremist groups.
This week, despite the abuses witnessed in Portland and numerous instances of rogue behavior by ICE, CBP, and the sheriffs they fund, the US House has been unable to pass legislation to significantly cut funds for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that houses the various federal agencies.
The fifty organizations (listed below) signed the letter calling on MA and CT members of Congress to take action to stop DHS funding to Sheriff Thomas Hodgson that has enabled abuse in the New England region and promoted a white nationalist agenda nationwide. Read the full letter here, and see the full list of signers below.
Groups calling to defund Sheriff Hodgson: Bristol County for Correctional Justice; Unidad Latina en Accion – Connecticut; National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON); NAACP New Bedford; Black Lives Matter – BLM New Bedford; Cape Cod Coalition for Safe Communities; Never Again Action Boston; Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice; Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights); American Friends Service Committee; Chelsea Collaborative; Immigrant Legal Resource Center; Detention Watch Network (DWN); Sheriffs for Trusting Communities; Hartford Catholic Worker; Zen Center North Shore; Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; Rian Immigrant Center; CT Shoreline Indivisible; Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven; Middlesex Immigrant Rights Alliance; Center for Youth Leadership; New Haven Leon Sister City Project; Advancement Project, National Office; Salem No Place for Hate; Washington Defender Association; Project Blueprint; Black & Brown United in Action; Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA); Unitarian Universalist Mass Action; Families Belong Together; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA); Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus; Agencia ALPHA; Brazilian Women’s Group; LUMA; United Action Connecticut; Quixote Center; Main Street Congregational United Church of Christ; Green Party of Clinton, CT; First Parish Cambridge: Beyond Borders Sin Fronteras; Paulist Center Immigration Advocacy Group; Rev. Joe Amico, Tabernacle Congregational Church, United Church of Christ; Rev. Nathan Ives, St. Peter’s/San Pedro Episcopal Church; Rabbi Brian Immerman, Congregation Mishkan Israel; Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Congregation Beth Elohim
#StopHodgson #AltoSheriff #DefundDHS #UnmaskHate #ICEoutofMA #ICEoutofCT