Bristol County Sheriff’s partnership with ICE terminated by DHS
DARTMOUTH – The Department of Homeland Security has terminated its 287 (g) agreement with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, ending the partnership between Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s agency and the Immigration and Customs Service which allowed the BCSO to house federal immigration detainees at its facilities and participate in immigration law enforcement.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a note to ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson announcing the end of the partnership, as well as the end of a similar deal in Georgia with the county detention center of Irwin.
“Let me state a fundamental principle: we will not tolerate mistreatment of people in civilian immigration detention or unsanitary conditions of detention,” Mayorkas wrote.
In the memo, Mayorkas said that at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in Dartmouth, “the treatment of detainees and the conditions of detention are unacceptable” and that the center itself “is of poor quality. minimal operational importance for the agency ”.
“We have an obligation to make lasting improvements to our system of civilian immigration detention,” Mayorkas wrote. “DHS detention centers and the treatment of people there will be subject to our health and safety standards. Where we find they are insufficient, we will continue to act as we do today. “
The Carreiro Immigration Detention Center made headlines just over a year ago when, on May 1, 2020, an incident with a group of detainees led to a melee that caused an estimated $ 25,000 in damages. The sheriff’s office said inmates were showing signs of potentially having COVID-19 refused to be tested for coronavirus; inmates said they were protesting being sent to the institution’s solitary or medical unit, which they said was unhygienic.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey opened an investigation into the incident on May 5, 2020. His office released its 60-page report in December 2020, describing “institutional failures and bad decisions” by leaders in the office of the sheriff which resulted in a “calculated use of force” which “caused or risked unnecessary harm to everyone involved.” The report concluded that the BCSO had violated the civil rights of federal immigration detainees and recommended a series of reforms, including ending the 287 (g) partnership between DHS / ICE and BCSO.
Hodgson hit back at the report as soon as it was released, calling it “baseless” and “politically motivated.” He called Healey a “political hack” and accused her of “creating a false account of the incident”.
Healey then retorted that if Hodgson disputes the accuracy of the report, “he should immediately release to the public all video footage, incident reports and other evidence related to the incident – instead, he should fights against their release in court, ”she said. said, noting a legal battle waged by the ACLU to have the video footage shown.
Healey said Thursday her office contacted Secretary Mayorkas last month “to share the report’s findings and ask DHS to terminate its contracts with BCSO.”
“We commend DHS for ending its partnership with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, which has a long history of abuse and neglect of immigration detainees. Our thorough investigation and advocacy have made it clear that the sheriff’s office is unwilling to take action to protect the rights and safety of inmates, and that ICE must sever ties with BCSO, ”Healey said. “This decision taken under the Biden administration ensures that the civil rights of immigrants are protected and are not violated with cruel disregard for human life and dignity.”
Hodgson issued a statement in response to DHS’s decision to end his office’s partnership with ICE, and is also holding a press conference tomorrow morning outside the detention center.
“Shame on the Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas for placing his leftist political agenda above public safety by terminating the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office’s contracts with immigration and customs, ”Hodgson said. “It’s nothing but a political hit orchestrated by Sec. Mayorkas, the Biden administration and other anti-law enforcement groups to punish outspoken critics and advance their partisan agenda to score political points.
“This ruling puts residents of Bristol County, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States of America at greater risk of falling victim to illegal alien criminals. While Sec. Mayorkas and the Biden administration are turning their backs on the people of Bristol County and our great nation, I won’t, ”he said.
All civilian immigration detainees remaining in the facility will be transferred to other locations. The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has already been removed from the list of agencies on the ICE website with which it has 287 (g) agreements.