For the record, I’ve never claimed to be an expert on illegal immigration or illegal immigration enforcement. 

Sure, it’s an issue I’ve been working on for 20 years. It’s an issue I’m passionate about and one I’ve discussed with many in the law enforcement community from here to Washington, D.C., and the southern border. 

But it’s an issue I’m still learning about; an issue that I have a good working knowledge of but one I recognize is always changing. An issue as complex and multi-layered as illegal immigration has very few experts, that I guarantee. 

Someone who is not an expert is Albert Orlowski, author of the opinion piece titled “Is the sheriff really an expert on immigration law?” published in The Standard-Times and SouthCoastToday.com on Friday, May 26. 

I know he’s not an expert because his opinion submission is littered with misinformation. 

The Dartmouth resident claims that in 2009 and 2010 I wouldn’t give him the time of day when he was, in essence, trying to sell me on the benefits of the 287(g) program. A senior ICE official told me recently that he believes that the author “had never been around the 287(g) program.” Not only that, but the author, even in his position as deportation officer, was “not allowed and did not have the authority” to approach myself or any other sheriff or law enforcement agency about the program, according to the ICE official.

Mr. Orlowski went on to claim that “the director of training for the 287(g) program asked (the author) to encourage the sheriff to send students to fill the empty slots he had there.” How do I know that is a false claim? Successful acceptance into the program requires a lengthy multilayered agency approval process followed by IT acquisition and installation, officer designation and suitability processing, only after which may an officer be scheduled for basic training. It is much more formal and serious than filling some empty seats in a classroom. 

In 2011, I traveled to D.C. with Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald and Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis to officially express interest in the ICE 287(g) program. All three of us were told that, due to various factors, including political, ICE was not taking any new programs into 287(g) agreements. 

So to blame me and my department that “criminals who should be detained and deported were being released, potentially victimizing the citizens of Bristol County due to the lack of the 287(g) program implementation” is just wrong and completely false. 

So is his assertion that our deputies need “multimillion dollar insurance policies.” The senior ICE official told me there is absolutely no liability for the officers or the state taxpayers of Massachusetts. 

In his reference to my program that would send inmate volunteers to work on national infrastructure projects and clean up after natural disasters, he states that “Federal law requires that certain criteria — wages, benefits, veteran’s preference, for example — must be met for workers on such projects. There is no clause for slave labor.” 

Since we wouldn’t be forcing the inmates to go, how could it be considered “slave labor"? All inmate workers, from the ones we have out around Bristol County every day to the ones I’ve proposed to send to work on the wall, would be volunteers, not “slave labor.” And what is so bizarre about a program that can teach rehabilitative skills to inmates and save taxpayers money? 

But why would someone who used to be a law enforcement officer for ICE, an organization I have a long, deep respect and history with, make all these false claims and misinformation about my organization? 

Sounds like the public didn’t get the whole story. 

That’s the fact, because the author omitted a few facts from his piece that show exactly what his motivations are.

Like how he has been unsuccessfully trying to obtain employment with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office since he retired from ICE. 

He made it clear in a relatively recent conversation that he was the most qualified individual to manage our ICE detention center.

We hire based on need and what is in the best interest of our citizens. One of our best Bristol County team members heads up our ICE operation and we have no intention or desire to make a change there. 

This is a man with what appears to be a personal vendetta trying to make myself and the hard-working BCSO team look bad to the public.

Shame on him. 

Thomas M. Hodgson is the sheriff of Bristol County. He can be reached via email at sheriff@bcso-ma.org