Bristol County Sheriff’s Office partners with ICE, granting immigration enforcement authority

By Kirsten Glavin

kglavin@abc6.com

@kirstenglavin

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA –  At a time when elected officials from Los Angeles to Boston are speaking out against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration proposals, the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has taken a big step to partner with federal immigration enforcement.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was recently accepted into ICE’s 287(g) program, which cements a partnership between the BCSO and ICE that will give Bristol County personnel delegated authority to apprehend, detain and assist with deportation of criminal illegal aliens locally.

"If you are harboring someone and I don’t care if it’s in our neighboring state of Rhode Island or you’re harboring them in Boston… There is a potential that they are going to create a catastrophic event in my county,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

Personnel will undergo 4 weeks of training before getting started. Sheriff Hodgson believes the program will help combat local terrorism threats in the county’s 20 cities and towns.

The program comes after many cities nation-wide called for sanctuary status to protect illegal immigrants from any new enforcement of federal immigration laws under President- Elect Trump.

"There’s no question any of these communities in Massachusetts that are being sanctuaries for potential criminals, create a problem for us in Bristol county and all other counties across Massachusetts,” the Sheriff told ABC6 News.  "I think most Americans want us to do this. There’s no harm in knowing who’s here who doesn’t belong here."

However, not everyone agrees with the sheriff’s way of thinking.  The American Civil Liberties Union in Boston raised concerns over conflict of interest.

"Bristol county is taking a big step backwards,” said Laura Rotolo, an attorney representing the ACLU.  "It creates a conflict of interest between people who are supposed to be responsible for the care of people in their custody…  who are now also the people responsible for deporting them."

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is the third organization in New England to enter into the 287(g) program.  The first was the Department of Corrections based in Milford, Mass.

ICE officials will join Sheriff Hodgson for an official signing of the Memorandum of Agreement at a later date.