Thomas Hodgson

Sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts

First elected in 1997, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of Bristol County, MA, has, in many ways, replaced Joe Arpaio as America’s most anti-immigrant sheriff. In recent years, Hodgson has worked hand in hand with national anti-immigrant groups to the point that he is now a member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) advisory board.

  • Hodgson was first elected in 1997, but it was not until years later that Hodgson made anti-immigrant advocacy one of his biggest priorities.
  • In 2012, Hodgson accepted an invitation from FAIR to participate in its annual “border school” in El Paso, Texas. The school brings together sheriffs from around the country who participate in workshops led by anti-immigrant groups and local law enforcement. According to FAIR’s annual report, “Sheriff Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts, was so impressed with the “school,” he signed on to host an all-day training session in his jurisdiction.” Hodgson’s working relationship with FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups only strengthened as time went on.
  • In 2013, Hodgson vocally opposed the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration package, S 744, introduced in the Senate. He signed on to a letter with a number of other sheriffs who’ve worked closely with anti-immigrant groups in opposition to S 744. The letter claimed, “The degree to which this legislation tolerates both past and future criminal activities ensures legalization and a path to citizenship for many criminal aliens and gang members currently residing in the United States.” Also in 2013, Hodgson participated in a press event organized by then-Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions in opposition to S 744.
  • A year later, Hodgson organized a gathering of sheriffs in Washington, D.C., who spoke out against executive actions on immigration taken by President Obama. In attendance was anti-government former sheriff Richard Mack. Mack gave an interview to the anti-Semitic tabloid American Free Press at the event. According to research from the Center for New Community (CNC), FAIR was directly involved in the planning of Hodgson’s event.
  • The CNC report also found, through FOIA requests, that Hodgson was using a personal email account to communicate with FAIR and not his Bristol County Sheriff’s Office email.
  • Following the election of Donald Trump, Sheriff Hodgson signed an agreement with ICE and DHS to participate in the 287(g) program, allowing state and local law enforcement to act as immigration enforcement officers.
  • In February of 2018, Hodgson was invited to the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion on immigration. In 2019, Hodgson was again invited to the White House to participate in President Trump’s veto of legislation designed to overturn the national emergency he declared regarding an increase in asylum seekers coming from Central America.
  • On September 25, 2019, Hodgson organized a “Badges and Angels” press conference on Capitol Hill with FAIR. Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli and Congressman Andy Biggs were featured speakers. One day later, Hodgson along with nearly 200 sheriffs from around the country presented President Trump with a plaque at an event sponsored in part by FAIR. During a photo op at the White House, President Trump called the gift a “great honor.”
  • In 2017, Hodgson joined FAIR’s board of advisors, despite the fact that the organization was founded by white nationalist John Tanton, took over $1 million in funding from the eugenicist Pioneer Fund, and has past and present employees who have demonized immigrants.
  • Hodgson provided an endorsement for FAIR that is published on its website. The endorsement reads, “FAIR is one of the greatest organizations to be able to work with because they have provided us the opportunity to talk to America about one of the most important issues, if not the most important issue, impacting our communities.”
  • In his 2014 letter inviting sheriffs to join him at his event in Washington, D.C., Hodgson included the bogus statistic, first publicized by Rep. Steve King, that “25 people in the U.S. are killed each day by illegal immigrants.” When asked in an interview by CNC about where he got that information, Hodgson responded, “That piece comes from, I think it’s actually, let me just think for a second. Oh boy. I’ll find it for you.”
  • Hodgson infamously offered in 2017 to send people incarcerated in Bristol County to the border help build the wall that Trump promised during his campaign. Jessica Vaughan of CIS agreed with his proposal, stating, “If any of the inmates working on the wall are criminal aliens from south of the border, they’ll be that much closer for deportation. Not only that, they can use their new skills to support themselves in their home country.”
  • Hodgson has attended FAIR’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire event on multiple occasions. The event brings together anti-immigrant elected officials, activists and radio hosts who flood the airwaves with nativist rhetoric during a two-day period. At the 2017 event, Hodgson told one radio host that arrest warrants should be issued to elected officials pledging to provide sanctuary for the undocumented. It is not the first time he has made this argument.
  • In an effort to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, Hodgson launched the exploitative “Prisoner Release Alert System,” where he posted alleged crimes committed by immigrants who were ordered released from detention by a federal judge due to their vulnerability to contracting the virus. Center for Immigration Studies’ Jessica Vaughan endorsed the move.
  • In 2018, Hodgson signed a letter sent to members of Congress by the National Sheriffs Association in opposition to sanctuary policies. The letter read, in part, “Further delay and inaction on immigration reform will cost more innocent lives, more financial hardships, and an even greater decline in the public trust that is essential to the preservation of our Republic. Without border security and immigration reform, more Americans will continue to be victims of crime. Now is the time to act!”
  • Hodgson has been opposed to any sanctuary efforts throughout his tenure. In 2015 he spoke out against a proposal modeled on California’s Trust Act, that would limit law enforcement cooperation with ICE unless the person in question was convicted of a serious crime.
  • In 2018, he teamed up with Jessica Vaughan of CIS and others to denounce proposed legislation that would provide a form of sanctuary relief for undocumented immigrants in Massachussetts.
  • Hodgson was vocally opposed to the Obama Administration’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion to prioritize immigration enforcement. At a press conference in 2015, he stated, “It is unconscionable that after spending resources to investigate and apprehend criminal illegal aliens and remove them from our streets that the federal government would order sheriffs to release them back into our neighborhoods to victimize our citizens, legal residents, and their families once again.”
  • In 2018, Hodgson presented President Trump with a plaque at an event in Washington, D.C., that coincided with the National Sheriffs’ Association’s announcement of a crowdfunding effort to help pay for Trump’s promised border wall. Hodgson is a prominent member of the National Sheriffs’ Association. When presenting Trump with the plaque, Hodgson said, “You and your administration have given law enforcement its footing back and given law enforcement the support and tools necessary to protect the people in our neighborhoods, communities and our entire nation.”