Health Care

Abbott to seek laws to remove sheriff after ICE detainer policy announcement


Abbott did not provide details on how legislation would boot Sheriff Hernandez or other elected officials from office.

Abbott said the county policy would effectively ban any Travis County Sheriff's Office employee from sharing any information or cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, something he said was akin to "political Russian roulette". Monday's letter states Travis County received nearly $1.8 million from the office over the past year "based upon the commitment that federal immigration law would be enforced". In the previous fiscal year, Travis County received about $10 million in direct and pass-through funds from the federal government, according to county officials.

For less dramatic crimes punished with time in county jail, Abbott's point would stand, but it's not clear he wishes to argue in a straightforward fashion for the deportation of immigrants convicted of misdemeanors, or immigrants charged but not convicted.

"We are working on laws that will one ban sanctuary cities, remove from office any officeholder who promotes sanctuary cities, impose criminal penalties as well as financial penalties", Abbott says.

Hernandez did not respond to the letter. "They are unrelated to immigration, and none are under the management of the sheriff's office".

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While illegal immigrants who get deported rarely sue, US citizens about whom ICE was mistaken can and do file lawsuits over the violation of their civil rights. Trump said he would cut federal money to those communities. "We respectfully urge you to allow the sheriff of Travis County to do her job".

When asked directly if that policy would qualify it as a "sanctuary city" in the eyes of the Texas Conservative Coalition, one of its leaders, Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, said "more and more so, yes".

A spokeswoman for Hernandez said she had no immediate comment on Abbott's letter, but in a video posted to YouTube last week, the sheriff said honoring all federal immigration detainers ties up her deputies and sows distrust between officers and county residents. Earlier this week Gov. Abbott gave her an ultimatum: reverse policy or lose governor grant funding.

On the same day President Donald Trump is expected to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and Gov. Greg Abbott called for the ouster of public officials who support them, Hispanic Texas lawmakers called the policies nothing more than government-sanctioned racial profiling.

State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said, "These proposals will potentially subject our local jurisdictions to huge legal liabilities and will open the door to racial profiling." Sen.