The sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts, is taking aim at Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after he announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would no longer use a migrant detention center in the county that was the subject of misconduct allegations, with the sheriff describing it as a “political hit job.”
“Shame on Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas for putting his left-wing political agenda above public safety by ending the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said in a statement.
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“This is nothing but a political hit job 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,” he said.
His statement came after DHS said it will no longer use the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in Bristol County, and the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. Both were being run by ICE.
The facility in Bristol County, run under an agreement with the local sheriff’s office is “no longer operationally necessary,” DHS said in a statement.
The Washington Post reported that the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is under investigation after staff used pepper balls and a flash-bang against detainees who threw chairs at staff amid a dispute over COVID-19 testing and isolation. The Associated Press reported further allegations of overcrowding and excessive use of force.
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Meanwhile the facility in Irwin has been the subject of accusations by a whistleblower that it performed unwanted medical procedures like hysterectomies on female migrants in custody.
Mayorkas did not explicitly say why DHS will no longer use the jails, but made an apparent reference to the allegations in a statement.
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“Allow me to state one foundational principle: We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention,” Mayorkas said in a memo to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.
“We have an obligation to make lasting improvements to our civil immigration detention system,” Mayorkas said. “This marks an important first step to realizing that goal. DHS detention facilities and the treatment of individuals in those facilities will be held to our health and safety standards. Where we discover they fall short, we will continue to take action as we are doing today.”
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Hodgson claimed that the move puts “the people of Bristol County, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States of America at greater risk of being victimized by criminal illegal aliens.”
Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson had said earlier that the agency “will continue to ensure it has sufficient detention space to hold noncitizens as appropriate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.