One of the nation’s most influential sheriffs on illegal immigration warned Monday that immigrants freed by judges concerned about the coronavirus spreading in jails will disappear after the crisis is over.
“The question many people ask is, ‘Are they going to turn themselves in after the COVID-19 incident is over?’” said Bristol County, Massachusetts,Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.
“And the answer is, no, of course not,” he said.
A local judge has ordered Hodgson to release dozens of illegal immigrant inmates he had been holding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He told aCenter for Immigration StudiesZoom panel that most were awaiting deportation.
He said the judge ordered illegal immigrants released because “perhaps” they could catch the virus in jail, even though there are no cases of it in his jail.
“Ironically, of my 850 detainees/inmates, we have had no COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and this judge is releasing these detainees under a ‘humanitarian’ claim. I can think of nothing more inhumane than letting dangerous people wander around our neighborhoods, based on a claim that maybe, just maybe, they could contract COVID-19 in the detention center,” he said.
Hodgson, who has played a key role in organizing sheriffs on immigration policy, added that the judge has put no constraints on those released, such as to wear a tracking bracelet. And, he said, most have criminal histories.
Democrats have been pushing for the release of prisoners, including illegal immigrants, out of fear they could get the virus.
But opponents argue that those released could get it just as easy on the outside, and they are also prone to committing further crime.
A former immigration judge, Andrew Arthur, argued that it is safer for all inmates to stay in jails.
He noted that ICE provides healthcare to illegal immigrants held in jail, and they can keep people separated in jail.