Sheriffs Collude with Anti-Immigrant Group: Florida becomes a testing ground for law enforcement attacks on noncitizens.

AuthorDavis-Cohen, Simon

Emails obtained by Political Research Associates, and shared exclusively with The Progressive, show extensive contacts and cooperation between the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) and an anti-immigrant group.

"That is awesome, we accept," wrote Jonathan Thompson, NSA's executive director, in a March 2017 email. Thompson was responding to an offer of assistance from Bob Dane, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant hate group. "My schedule is whacked," Thompson continued, "but this [is] important enough to try to solve sked issues Eager to keep this going."

Political Research Associates is a national social justice think tank that studies the U.S. political right wing, white supremacists, and paramilitary organizations. The National Sheriffs' Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, represents 3,000 elected sheriffs nationwide, with a total membership of more than 15,000.

Dane was offering the NSA a "full pro-bono consultation" with Matthew O'Brien, FAIR's research director and a former official of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"The senior staff and I," wrote Dane, "spent most of the last few days turning over your detainer/ACLU issues."

This meant they had brainstormed a response to the hefty backlog of lawsuits sheriffs have faced across the country for detaining people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, without a warrant.

While some law enforcement officers have refused to cooperate with ICE, the NSA appears willing to do anything it can to help streamline the jail-to-detention-center pipeline, including working with designated hate groups.

"We've developed an unofficial 'task force' here specifically to lend support and advice to you," wrote Dane. "I'd like to suggest/offer that our team come over to the NSA next week and meet with you." The email thread was shared with Bob Gualtieri, the sheriff in Florida's Pinellas County. "I will be there," Gualtieri replied. FAIR's 2017 annual report says the meeting took place.

In June of this year, Gualtieri was awarded NSA's 2019 Sheriff of the Year for his role in developing a novel "Basic Ordering Agreement," which he unveiled in 2018. According to the NSA, this new model for law enforcement collaboration with ICE "clarifies that aliens held by these jurisdictions are held under the color of federal...

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