Texas Governor Greg Abbott is challenging a county sheriff over her decision to allow a “Sanctuary City” policy in the state’s capitol, an approach he says puts “the lives of Texans at stake.”
In a three-page letter addressing Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s upcoming policy refusing to cooperate with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agency, Abbott explains why a sanctuary policy is detrimental to the state and its citizens.
“As sheriff your primary duty is to ensure the safety of the residents of Travis County. However your recent policy directive forbidding Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) employees from cooperating with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – except in the most limited circumstances – betrays your oath and the residents of Travis County,” Abbott wrote.
“I strongly urge you to reverse that policy before its effective date of February 1, 2017.”
Cooperation with federal border enforcement agencies helps nab dangerous criminals who might otherwise “further jeopardize public safety,” the governor notes.
“The ICE detainer program,” Gov. Abbott writes, “plays an integral role in ensuring that dangerous criminal aliens do not end up back on our streets.”
“By issuing immigration detainer requests to law enforcement agencies such as yours, ICE has an opportunity to collect and remove criminal aliens already in custody before they have the opportunity to commit additional crimes against the citizens we are sworn to protect.”
“The whole point of ICE’s detainer program is to ensure that the worst of the worst do not walk free and further jeopardize public safety,” the letter reads.
Gov. Abbott also threatened to cut state funding to the county’s law enforcement agency if Sheriff Hernandez continued to play politics.
Travis Co. sanctuary city policy is a dangerous game of political Russian roulette with lives of Texans at stake. https://t.co/SdY9LGbLaa
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 23, 2017
“This is not a pronouncement of sound public policy; it is a dangerous game of political Russian roulette – with the lives of Texans at stake,” he wrote.
“We will ask that you reverse your policy and recommit to enforce federal immigration laws. Failure to accomplish both of those tasks prior to February 1, 2017, will disqualify Travis County from receiving subsequent CJD grant money.”
The Governor's Office will cut funding for Travis County adopting sanctuary policies. Stiffer penalties coming. https://t.co/yYxeXql3xL
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 20, 2017
“Your reckless actions endangering the safety of Texans will provide powerful testimony for the need to strengthen Texas law,” the governor wrote, promising to take action next legislative session.
The Texas governor’s views on immigration enforcement mirror those of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, who has “made stopping federal funding to ‘sanctuary cities’ one of his ‘Day One’ promises during his campaign,” according to the Associated Press.