Bristol County, Massachusetts, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson announced on Jan. 4 that he was launching a new program called the National Inmates’ Community Endeavors (NICE), in which inmates will provide free labor (video below).
As part of his NICE program, Hodgson offered to send inmates to build President-elect Donald Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall for free, notes WPRI.
"Knowing what I know about President-elect Trump, I gotta imagine he's looking for every resource he can that's going to be the least expensive approach," Hodgson stated at his swearing-in ceremony at Bristol Community College.
Hodgson, who has a long history opposing undocumented immigration, said that having prisoners build the wall is the most positive thing they could do, reports The Herald News:
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I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall ... Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be very powerful.
Hodgson said inmates could assist in building the border wall and/or help clean up efforts at disaster sites -- both of which would put paid employees out of work.
Hodgson insisted that the border wall should be built, and suggested that Israeli officials, who have built a similar wall in their country, could teach the U.S. how to secure its borders, despite the endless conflict on Israel's borders.
Emily Kaufman, a spokeswoman for Democratic Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe via email: "Congressman Kennedy isn’t sure why the president-elect would need forced labor to build his wall. Isn’t Mexico paying for it?"
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Laura Rotolo, staff counsel with the ACLU of Massachusetts, told the newspaper that Hodgson's idea is likely illegal:
The proposal is perverse. It’s inhumane, and it’s most likely unconstitutional. It’s also likely an attempt by Sheriff Hodgson just to ride this wave and become famous nationally. . . . I hope we don’t have to take this proposal seriously.
If Sheriff Hodgson follows through on this gimmick, the ACLU of Massachusetts is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox, including litigation, to stop him. The wall itself . . . is based on racism and hatred, and no self-respecting Massachusetts official should have anything to do with it.