Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has gone on record that he wants jurisdictions in his state to comply with immigration laws, going so far as to say that he would withhold funds from localities who provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants or otherwise go against existing laws.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has told her deputies not to cooperate with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and Abbott has spoken out in the form of a letter to Hernandez.
Abbott sets up by telling Hernandez that she had betrayed her oath by adopting this policy.
As Sheriff your primary duty is to ensure the safety of the residents of Travis County. However, your recent policy directive forbidding Travis County Sherriff’s Office (TCSO) employees from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (except in the most limited of circumstances) betrays your oath and the residents of Travis County. I strongly urge you to reverse that policy before its effective date of February 1, 2017.
Hernandez had at one point attempted to justify her directive, but Abbott, is having none of it, smashes her reasoning.
You offer two justifications for your actions, but both are frivolous. First, you claim you have no legal power to comply with ICE detainers. That proves too much, of course, because by your own admission, TCSO will honor some ICE detainers — for example, when the alien is charged with or convicted of capital murder. 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. Second, you claim that TCSO should focus on “public safety,” while the federal government focuses on immigration enforcement. That ignores, of course, that the individuals subject to ICE detainers pose grave threats to public safety. 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.
Abbott goes on to cite staggering statistics that prove how wrongheaded policies like that of Hernandez are:
These undocumented aliens were charged with more than 559,000 criminal offenses. According to Texas Department Public Safety, those included 1,132 homicide charges; 66,687 assault charges; 16,304 burglary charges; 66,289 drug charges; 682 kidnapping charges; 39,689 theft charges; 43,723 obstructing police charges; 3,677 robbery charges; 5,903 sexual assault charges; and 8,375 weapons charges. Of the total undocumented aliens arrested in that time frame, over 139,000, or 66 percent, were identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as being in the United States illegally at the time of a previous arrest.
The governor concludes by giving Hernandez a date of February 1 to comply with existing immigration statues or he will withhold funding. It’s encouraging to see him standing firm on his promises to uphold the law.