A blunt-talking Massachusetts sheriff is calling the release of illegal aliens from his jail an “unconscionable risk to public health and safety.”
As of Sunday, Judge William G. Young ordered the release of more than 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees from the Bristol County House of Corrections over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. More are expected to hit the bricks in the coming days.
“These are baseless rulings,” Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said during a teleconference on Monday. “There have been no COVID-19 cases among detainees here. The judge’s action creates a greater public health risk.”
“Outside of jail, these [detainees]have no doctor, no job and no discipline. They have shown they cannot follow the law to begin with. What do you think is going to happen now?”
Voluntarily returning to jail at some future date will likely not happen, since several of the freed aliens had been under final removal orders from immigration courts.
To alert the public, Hodgson this week began posting criminal charges and convictions of detainees who were loosed on the streets without so much as a GPS tracking bracelet. In addition to violations of immigration law, their offenses ranged from rape, robbery and assault to drug trafficking, larceny and DUI.
Andrew Arthur, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, questioned the legality of Judge Young’s rulings, noting that U.S. law requires detention of aliens awaiting removal from the country, as well as those with criminal convictions.
In light of other court-ordered jail releases of alien felons in California, FAIR has stated that while civil society is obligated to protect immigration detainees from COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible, no jurist is under any obligation to ignore their offenses and set them at liberty because they might become infected.
Arthur, a former ICE official who has inspected several of the agency’s detention facilities, said detainees live in healthier conditions than they would out among the general civilian population. “Inside, they have full medical access and ICE protocols for screening and quarantining,” he observed.
Nonetheless, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and the Massachusetts congressional delegation alleged that the Bristol center was “overcrowded and lack[ing]basic hygiene options and health care.”
Hodgson called these cheap and poorly aimed political shots. He pointed out that Bristol’s facility was at 56 percent capacity prior to the releases, and equipped with designated rooms (“negative pressure chambers”) for medical isolation, should they be needed.
As Judge Young persists with his rolling releases, Bristol’s jail vacancy rate will climb higher, and the Bay State will be less safe for it.