Foley Hoag Represents Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice in Lawsuit Over Federal Immigration Law Enforcement

May 5, 2017

Foley Hoag LLP has filed a public records lawsuit in the Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice against Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. The filing asks the Superior Court to order the release of information on Hodgson’s participation in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Section 287(g) program.

Section 287(g) is a voluntary enrollment program that deputizes local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law. The lawsuit cites local concerns about the allocation of limited taxpayer funds and the potential consequences of racial profiling and weakened public safety as justification for this filing.

Based on these concerns, the lawsuit asks for records to determine how much taxpayer money is being spent on this program, where enforcement activities are occurring and who is being investigated and detained as a result.

“Through this latest lawsuit, we seek to shed light on the nature of Sheriff Hodgson’s involvement in the Section 287(g) program,” said Sophia Hall, Staff Attorney of the Lawyers’ Committee. “There has been growing public concern about the Sheriff’s immigration enforcement rhetoric and actions. It is thus imperative for civil rights advocates to monitor his activities closely to address these concerns.”

The Lawyers’ Committee had previously filed a formal request in January 2017 to Hodgson on his office’s participation in the program, following the office’s announcement of this partnership. Hodgson did not comply with this request despite acknowledging its receipt, which is a violation of state public records law that generally requires subsequent document production in 10 days.

“The issue of local involvement in federal immigration enforcement is of intense public interest,” said Foley Hoag partner David Kluft. “Massachusetts’ public records law is clear that documents of the type that the Lawyers’ Committee has requested must be disclosed and cannot be shielded from public scrutiny.” Foley Hoag attorneys Kluft and Alice Yu served as co-counselors to The Lawyers' Committee in the case.

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