Somerville Mayor, Bristol County Sheriff Debating Immigration | NECN
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Somerville Mayor, Bristol County Sheriff Debating Immigration

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A debate on a four-person panel - often between Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson - took place on Thursday at UMass Law School. The two officials exchanged barbs stemming from recent U.S immigration policy developments and the declaration by some cities around the country that they are a safe space, or sanctuary, for immigrants.

    (Published Thursday, April 6, 2017)

    A week after exchanging barbs over their stances on undocumented immigration, Somerville's mayor and Bristol County's sheriff faced off during a panel on Thursday.

    "I may not agree with the sheriff, but it would be wrong for us to dismiss people just because they disagree with us," Mayor Joseph Curtatone said.

    Curtatone sat down with Sheriff Thomas Hodgson for a nearly two-hour debate at a UMass Law immigration symposium in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

    Both officials made headlines after Hodgson said elected leaders, such as Curtatone, should be arrested for allowing so-called "sanctuary cities." The remarks prompted Curtatone to fire back in a Facebook post, where he called Hodgson a "jack-booted thug."

    On Thursday, neither backed down from their arguments.

    "You're putting the public at risk. You're making us more vulnerable, and you have to be held accountable," Hodgson said of cities that don't comply with federal immigration laws.

    The issue came under renewed scrutiny after Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned cities that they would lose federal funding if they did not cooperate with immigration officials.

    But many, like Curtatone, believe they are not in violation of any law. Instead, he argued Thursday that Hodgson was the one violating the rights of undocumented immigrants.

    "The Constitution applies to them, as well," Curtatone responded. "If you can't see that, you need to check yourself in here and maybe take a class here at UMass Law."

    He urged the audience not to let "smokescreens and lies and this negative rhetoric" affect their understanding of the country's current immigration policies.

    But Hodgson countered that there is a real safety risk to allowing undocumented immigrants to enter the country and stay.

    When asked about their previous spat in the public eye, Hodgson would not say Thursday if he in fact still believed Curtatone should be arrested.

    "I haven't determined that," Hodgson explained. "That's something the federal government would have to determine."

    However, Curtatone was clear when pressed on whether he regretted the name-calling and bickering with the sheriff.

    "No," he replied. "That spoke to the absurdity of his comments."

    Despite their disagreements, both were able to agree on one thing - immigration reform needs to come from Washington.

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