Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced last week that her department would no longer provide full cooperation to federal immigration authorities. Beginning February 1st, sheriff’s officials in her county will only recognize federal hold requests if the suspect has been charged with one of a few major crimes.
“The public must be confident that local law enforcement is focused on local public safety, not on federal immigration enforcement. Our jail cannot be perceived as a holding tank for ICE or that Travis County deputies are ICE officers,” Hernandez said.
Under the new rules, Travis County law enforcement officials will only honor federal detainer orders when suspects have been charged with capital murder, human smuggling, or aggravated sexual assault. Otherwise, Hernandez said, immigration enforcement agents can take a hike.
The order would make Travis County a semi-sanctuary for illegal immigrants, which is exactly what Texas Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to fight. Abbott announced earlier this year that sanctuary cities in Texas would risk losing state funding, and he wasted no time warning Travis County that they were in danger of financial consequences.
Abbott announced this week that his office “will cut funding for Travis County adopting sanctuary policies.”
“Stiff penalties coming,” Abbott tweeted.
Travis County could likely weather the financial blow; according to the AP, they would lose only about $1.8 million in grants if Abbott followed through on his threat. That’s $1.8 million of a total budget of about $170 million. Only Travis County officials know what kind of harm that would do to their operational budget, but chances are this is something they can afford to do if they really want to.
On the other hand, Travis County will be fighting against a steep political tide. Abbott and the Texas legislature will be focused on sanctuary cities in 2017; the governor has promised to do everything in his power to ban them. And nationally, we now have an administration that has a very clear agenda when it comes to illegal immigration. President Donald Trump said many times on the campaign trail that he would strip federal funds from any city or county that defied federal immigration law.
Defenders of sanctuary city policies say that it’s about forging trust between police and the illegal immigrant community, but let’s be clear here: We’re talking about criminals. We’re not talking about a deportation force. We’re not talking about rounding up grandma and her hardworking family. We’re talking about people who came to this country illegally…and then proceeded to break the law. Sorry, but if you can’t even keep your nose clean, you’ve gotta go.
If these Democrats want to shield criminals from deportation, have at it. But there’s no reason the rest of us should have to pay for it.