A Massachusetts sheriff testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday calling for elected leaders of "sanctuary cities" to be arrested, prompting a firestorm of criticism from state officials.
"If these sanctuary cities are going to harbor and conceal criminal illegal aliens from [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], which is in direct violation of Title 8 of the U.S. Code, federal arrest warrants should be issued for their elected officials," said longtime Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who was reportedly invited to testify by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R.-Va., the chairman of the subcommittee.
Hodgson’s comments about sanctuary cities, which refer to communities that don’t enforce federal immigration laws, were greeted by a harsh rebuke from Massachusetts lawmakers.
Joseph Curtatone, a Democratic mayor of Sommerville, a city located northwest of Boston, called Hodgson "a jack-booted thug," and added, "Come and get me."
"What you will find here is a city and a police force that treats all our residents equally while also respecting the law and our Constitution. We will not waver. We will remain a sanctuary, and we will not be bullied into villainizing our immigrant community," Curtatone said.
On Wednesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Hodgson debated sanctuary cities on Boston Herald Radio. "No federal law has been broken in Massachusetts, executive orders have been unclear and all over the road," Walsh said.
On Tuesday, Massachusetts State Rep. Michelle DuBois, a Democrat representing Brockton, posted a warning on Facebook about possible immigrations raids in the city.
"Passing information along that is already all over the community not only lets the people I represent know what is happening, it lets ICE know that everyone in Brockton is aware of their intended raid if there was one," DuBois said in a statement. When asked if she thought the post might be construed as obstructing justice, she replied, "No, I don’t."
Hodgson denounced DuBois’s claims. "This is the most outrageous example of what is going on across the United States that is undermining my job and every other law enforcement officer in the United States,” he said.
ICE officials also slammed DuBois for her status and affirmed they do not release information about future operations or perform random raids.
"Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said about DuBois’s post, the Boston Herald reported.
Hodgson, a Republican, has a reputation for drawing attention by making controversial remarks. In January, he proposed that Bristol County inmates help build the proposed border wall President Donald Trump had promised on the campaign trail.
"I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall," Hodgson said.