Travis Co. Sheriff Sally Hernandez is facing removal from office after defying Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call to end “sanctuary city” policies which aid criminal aliens.
Hernandez, whose jurisdiction includes Austin, the capital of Texas, has rejected Abbott’s request to reverse her refusal to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement except in limited circumstances, which Abbott says is hypocritical.
“First, you claim you have no legal power to comply with ICE detainers. That proves too much, of course, because by your own admission, Travis County Sheriff’s Office will honor some ICE detainers, for example when the alien is charged with or convicted of capital murder,” Abbott wrote. “You have the exact same legal authority to honor ICE detainers for capital murder cases as you do for other crimes that you personally deem unworthy of enforcement.”
In addition, Abbott pointed out that ICE also issues detainers for illegal aliens with felony records – including murder.
“…Under your reckless policy, for example, dangerous criminal aliens convicted of felonies like murder, aggravated assault, human trafficking, including child sex trafficking, aggravated kidnapping, including sexual performance by a child or indecency with a child, dangerous gang activities…,” he added.
But in response, Hernandez declared that honoring the detainers would make the “community less safe by driving people into the shadows.”
“As local law enforcement officers, we will not interrogate or arrest someone over an unrelated federal immigration matter if they are trying to report a crime,” she said.
Hernandez is contending that state law enforcement cannot constitutionally be drafted into service by federal agencies, which is true – but it appears to be a straw man argument.
Judging by the letter, Abbott seems more interested in allowing ICE to remove illegals from the streets who were already arrested by Texas officials for committing – not simply reporting – serious crimes.
“For one, these sheriff offices receive grants from the governor’s office and we’re cutting off those grants to any sanctuary city in the State of Texas,” he said on Fox & Friends. “But, however, we are in a legislative session and we’re working on laws that will #1 ban sanctuary cities and #2 remove from office any office holder who promotes sanctuary cities while also imposing criminal penalties as well as financial penalties.”