Massachusetts Sate Representative Michelle DuBois is under fire for warning Brockton residents of rumored U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. While she says she did nothing wrong, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hoddgson called her out for it during a Congressional subcommittee hearing on immigration Tuesday.
Hodgson believes that DuBois possibly broke the law, telling the Brockton Enterprise that he thinks she can be charged with harboring or concealing known illegal immigrants.
Here’s what you need to know about DuBois and the controversy she caused.
1. DuBois Claimed a Friend in the ‘Latin Community’ Told Her About an ICE Raid on March 29
DuBois, who was elected to represent Brockton in the Massachusetts State House in 2014, wrote on her Facebook page that she heard from a friend in the “Latin community” that there would be an ICE raid in Brockton on March 28 and March 29. The post, which has since been deleted, read:
ICE raid in Brockton on 3/28 and 29th
If you get picked up by ICE call legal services direct line for immigration help: 774-488-5961
I got the following information from my friend in the Latin community:
“I have a message for the immigrant community of Brockton. Please be careful on Wednesday 29. ICE will be in Brockton on that day.
If you are undocumented don’t go out on the street. If there is a knock on the door of your house and you don’t know who it is, don’t open the door. I ask you to be careful.”
In a statement to CBS Boston, DuBois said she didn’t think she did anything wrong and did not think her post could be considered evidence of obstruction of justice.
“Passing information along that is already all over the community not only lets the people I represent know what is happening. It lets ICE know that everyone in Brockton is aware of their intended raid if there was one,” she told the station.
She did admit that she did not contact ICE about the rumors before posting her message.
2. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson Said DuBois Actions ‘Completely Undermines Law Enforcement’
On March 28, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told a U.S. House subcommittee that DuBois’ actions “completely undermines law enforcement.” (Brockton is part of Plymouth County, which borders Bristol County.)
In an interview with the Brockton Enterprise, Hodgson further explained that Dubois’ actions put law enforcement “at risk” and suggested that she resign.
“It’s completely unacceptable that any elected official would violate their oath and put the interests of criminal illegal aliens ahead of the public who elected her to fulfill her fundamental responsibilities in public office,” Hodgson said. “If she wants to do that, step down. Your responsibility is to help law enforcement, not to undermine it.”
He also told the Enterprise that he thinks DuBois broke a federal law by helping others conceal or harbor anyone who is known to be in the U.S. illegally.
“It’s a felony under federal law,” Hodgson told the Enterprise. “She did so knowingly. … Frankly, she took the same oath that all of us in government take. We have an obligation to uphold the laws in our community, and that includes federal laws. If she doesn’t like the laws, she needs to lobby to change them.”
DuBois later responded to Hodgson’s comments in the Enterprise, telling the paper that the warning she posted on Facebook was already spreading “all over the community.”
“So I do not agree with Sheriff Hodgson on his point before a federal panel in Washington DC that my public Facebook post places any law enforcement in danger,” she told the paper.
Hodgson also gained notoriety this week by calling for the arrest of elected officials in “sanctuary cities” in his House testimony. Somerville Mayor Joe Curatone called Hodgson a “jack-booted thug” on Facebook.
ICE officials told the Boston Herald that it “does not conduct random sweeps” or release information about its operations before they happen.
“Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer told the Herald.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter refused to comment on DuBois’ post, but her State House colleague Geoff Diehl told the Herald that it “puts lives in danger.”
“If you’re a lawmaker, where you vote on policy, your job is not to undermine current law,” Diehl told the Herald. Diehl co-chaired President Donald Trump’s Massachusetts campaign and has considered running for the U.S. Senate.
3. Brockton Is Not a ‘Sanctuary City’
At the moment, Brockton is not a “Sanctuary City.” The sanctuary cities in Massachusetts are Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Lawrence, Northampton and Somerville.
The Brockton City Council has debated becoming a sanctuary city by adopting the Trust Act, which bars the Brockton Police Department from holding undocumented immigrants for ICE. There was supposed to be a vote on the measure in November, but the Enterprise reported that the council decided to delay a vote until some time this year.
In December, Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter told the Enterprise that he doesn’t think the Trust Act is needed to protect immigrants in the city. He said that Brockton police already aren’t doing immigration enforcement.
“My answer is I don’t think it’s necessary, because if someone would just look at what my track record has been as mayor, since the day I’ve been mayor we’ve never held anybody and turned them over to immigration authorities,” Carpenter said. “We’ve never failed to allow someone to get bail because of immigration status.”
While the City Council hasn’t acted, the Brockton church community has, with a group of faith leaders offering “sanctuary churches” in December.
4. DuBois Has Turned Her Notoriety Into a Fundraising Opportunity
Although DuBois deleted the original Facebook post that caused the firestorm, she is using this as a fundraising opportunity for her Committee to Elect Michelle DuBois.
“We have seen the alt-right’s national attack campaign against Michelle and we need to help her fight back,” reads a statement on her Facebook page. “Your contribution will join you to this struggle for quality of life on behalf of: working-families, low-income people, people of color, and those most marginalized by society. Any size contribution is welcome.”
However, both of her Facebook pages have been bombarded with people calling her a “criminal” or asking that she be recalled. Many of them are from Facebook users not in her constituency, though. A link to her Facebook page was posted on Reddit, with the words “Arrest Her.”
5. DuBois Was On the Brockton City Council for 10 Years
Before being elected to the State House, DuBois sat on the Brockton City Council for 10 years, reprsesenting Ward 6.
In a 2014 interview with the Enterprise, DuBois described herself as a “grassroots activist” whose signature cause is environmentalism. She opposed the construction of a power plant and a desalination plant in Brockton.
“A lot of times, the way I as a politician try to effect public safety is by enforcing regulations, and making businesses or individuals that are not following the law uncomfortable,” DuBois told the Enterprise. “Grassroots activism is what really makes the change in Ward 6.”
“I ran for office because I grew up in the neighborhood and I wanted to keep it safe and family-oriented,” she told the Enterprise.
The district she represents in the State House also includes parts of East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. According to her LinkedIn account, while she was on the Brockton City Council, she worked at South Coastal Counties Legal Services in Fall River.
DuBois is married to Adam Swinson. Her father, Robert DuBois, died in 2007 and served in the Brockton Parks Department for 30 years. DuBois also has a sister and a brother, who is a state trooper.