A Massachusetts sheriff wants to help President-elect Donald Trump build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border -- by offering up inmates to work on the project.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a long-time proponent of strict immigration enforcement, presented his idea at an inauguration speech on Wednesday marking his fourth six-year term in office.
On Thursday, the sheriff told Boston’s Herald Radio that he has not heard from Trump himself, but his idea is being reviewed by the new administration’s staff.
“They have it, I believe it’s going over to their domestic policy advisers,” Hodgson said. “We will have to wait to see if it’s something the president-elect is interested in.”
Advocates of more lenient immigration policies quickly denounced the sheriff’s proposal, according to the Fox affiliate in Boston. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is threatening to go all out to block the sheriff’s plans, Fox25Boston.com reports.
Carol Rose, the executive director of the state’s ACLU chapter, said in a statement: “Sheriff Hodgson’s proposal to use the labor of the men and women in his custody to ‘build the wall’ is perverse, inhumane and likely unconstitutional.”
“Not only is Sheriff Hodgson willing to get involved with Trump’s racially discriminatory plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, he is proposing to use modern-day slave labor to do it,” Rose said in the statement, according to Fox25Boston.com
From the outset of his campaign, Trump made immigration a focus, vowing to build a wall along the Mexican border, and to make Mexico pay for it. Mexican officials have balked at the idea of funding the wall.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has expressed misgivings over Hodgson’s proposal, according to the Boston Herald.
The Herald quoted a statement from the governor’s spokesman saying Baker prefers that inmates provide services “closer to home.”
Hodgson says other sheriffs would like to send inmates to help construct a wall, the Herald reported.
“This is what government ought to be doing,” the Herald quoted him as saying. “It ought to be using whatever resources as creatively as we can to save taxpayer money and make sure our taxpayers are safe, which is another responsibility.”
“These inmates, they’re skilled, they want to be able to do these things,” he said. “They get it, they don’t want to be where they are, they made mistakes, but they feel good about themselves when someone does something that’s challenging, that gives them more skills that sets them up to succeed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.