Austin, Texas is a liberal town. It really is. But it was on track to become even more liberal. When she was the Democratic candidate for sheriff of Travis County, where Austin sits, Constable Sally Hernandez, campaigned last year on a policy of making Austin the first sanctuary city in the state. The Texas Tribune reported in August that “She says she won’t hold inmates for ICE when the federal agency seeks to remove them from the country.”
“I just don’t think you solve the criminal justice process by deporting them,” Hernandez told the paper. “We talk about being progressive. I believe we need to lead the way.”
“Under current policy, the Travis County sheriff’s office honors ICE “detainers,” or civil requests to hold a potentially deportable prisoner who would otherwise be free to leave,” said the Tribune.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that on Friday, January 20th, Travis County Sheriff, Sally Hernandez announced that “effective Feb. 1, sheriff's officials will honor so-called immigration holds or ‘detainers’ placed by federal authorities only when a suspect is booked into the Travis County Jail on charges of capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, and ‘continuous smuggling of persons.’”
“Otherwise, federal agents must have a court order or arrest warrant signed by a judge for the jail to continue housing a person whose immigration status is in question, according to Hernandez's policy, which she released Friday.”
This isn't the Texas Governor's first rodeo dealing with rogue sheriffs. In October of 2015, Dallas News had reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott “had warned Dallas County Sheriff, Lupe Valdez, to back down from a policy change on federal immigration detention requests.”
“Your refusal to fully participate in a federal law enforcement program intended to keep dangerous criminals off the streets leaves the State no choice but to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our fellow Texans,” Abbott wrote. His spokesman also announced that the governor was throwing his support behind legislation to bar “sanctuary city” policies, under which police are barred from asking those they stop about their immigration status.”
Texas Governor Abbott was livid tonight on Fox News O'Reilly Factor. He declared that "Texas is not going to tolerate any sanctuary policies, he said that yesterday he "withheld more than $1.5 million in grants from the governor's office to the Travis County Sheriff's Office." He continued:
"Today, we introduced legislation that will put the hammer down on Travis County as well as any sanctuary city policies in the state of Texas," Abbott said. "We're seeking fines; we're seeking to withdraw more state funds; we're seeking court orders that will compel officials like herself to either comply with the law or possibly go to jail themselves."
When asked what her motivation could be, the Governor said:
"She wants to pick and choose the laws that she will follow and the laws she will enforce...but the way she is constructing her policies is exactly what happened with Kate Steinle, If you look at the man who killed Kate Steinle, he would have been released by this sheriff in Travis County. I will not allow this type of conduct to occur in Texas."
O'Reilly: "So, even though ICE may ask for a detention, a hold, Sheriff Hernandez says "I'm not going to hold criminals that Homeland Security might want to be incarcerated, she's going to release them. Is that what the woman is doing?"
Gov. Abbot: "That's right, and even if these people have a past record of armed robbery, a criminal record of working with the Mexican drug cartel, regardless of what type of heavy-duty crime except for three exceptions that she listed, and she will let these people loose in the state of Texas...I will not allow it."
"She's trying to pander to the ideology of the Left, just like what you see I California, which I will not allow to happen in Texas."