ICE has a long way to go before conditions improve
It is great news that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement ended its Bristol County detention contract and program for deputizing sheriffs’ officers as immigration agents, but it is unfortunate that ICE didn’t go further (“ICE contract with sheriff terminated,” Page A1, May 21; “Is this the end for Sheriff Thomas Hodgson? The odds look good,” Opinion, May 22).
I have been in eight ICE detention facilities as a visitor and on ICE-supervised tours, where I discussed conditions in person with detainees, and subsequently received their letters and petitions with dozens of signatures, objecting to everything from officers’ violent abuse or mistreatment to inedible food, freezing temperatures, and exorbitantly priced phone calls.
Though the two detention contracts ICE just ended (the other is in Georgia) were notorious, in my experience, the facilities don’t differ all that much, which is why I urge the Biden administration to close all detention facilities, including in Plymouth County , and end 287(g) programs, including with Barnstable and Plymouth counties and the Massachusetts Department of Correction. The 287(g) program allows state and local officers to act as immigration agents, costing state taxpayers for no legitimate reason and putting officers in roles prone to racial profiling.
The Massachusetts Legislature should do its part and pass the Safe Communities Act and legislation making no-cost phone calls available to those incarcerated in the Commonwealth and their families. It’s the humane thing to do.
Bristol County voters can do better than Hodgson, and they should
Re “Bristol sheriff slams Biden: Says ICE severing ties leaves community at risk” (Metro, May 22): Shame on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and President Biden? No, shame on you, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, for having allowed and sponsored the mistreatment of people in your custody, and for inciting xenophobia and violating human dignity.
But shame also on those voters in Bristol County who have continued to reelect a sheriff who promotes a xenophobic agenda. And shame on those voters in the county who do not support Hodgson but who fail, either by sitting out local elections or through apathy, to do their part to defeat him.
Manfred H. Wiegandt
The writer is an immigration lawyer.