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Texas Governor Abbott Threatens to Cut Travis County Funding Over Sanctuary City Directive

Texas Governor Abbott Threatens to Cut Travis County Funding Over Sanctuary City Directive

“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”

The immigration battle is heating up in Texas.

Just last Friday, “the newly elected sheriff, who campaigned on the issue, announced Friday that her department would reduce its cooperation with federal immigration authorities when they request an inmate be flagged for possible deportation. Her office said it would still continue to hold people charged with very serious crimes, such as capital murder.”

Monday, calling her directive “dangerous” and “shortsighted”, Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez threatening to cut state funding if she persisted in her refusal to enforce federal immigration laws. Travis county is one of the state’s few liberal vestiges and home of state capitol, Austin.

The arbitrary enforcement led Abbott to remind Hernandez that her actions betrayed her, “oath and the residents of Travis County”. “I, too, have taken an oath to, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the State of Texas.” And my primary duty as Governor is to ensure the safety and security of Texans,” he wrote.

“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.

Indeed, the potential impact of this public safety program is staggering. Since 2011, over 200,000 undocumented aliens have been booked into Texas jails. 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

Your shortsighted policy ignores those astounding figures and would permit TCSO employees to comply with an ICE detainer request in only the most limited of circumstances. Under your reckless policy, for example, dangerous criminal aliens convicted of felonies like murder; aggravated assault; human trafficking, including child sex trafficking; aggravated kidnapping; inducing sexual performance by a child or indecency with a child; dangerous gang activities; and the manufacture or delivery of deadly substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, GHB, PCP, and ketamine will be turned loose into Travis County without permitting ICE the opportunity to collect them.”

Abbott gave Hernandez a February 1 deadline to, “reverse her policy and recommit to enforce federal immigration law” or lose millions in already allocated Criminal Justice Division grant money. Abbott plans to work with the state legislature to, “do more to protect our citizens from misguided and dangerous sanctuary policies like yours. Your reckless actions endangering the safety of Texans will provide powerful testimony for the need to strengthen Texas law. It will make clear that conditioning state funding on compliance with federal immigration laws is not enough. Rather, Texas must enact tough penalties that punish those who would put themselves above the law—and even above the community they purportedly serve.”

According to his office, “last year Governor Abbott conditioned all Criminal Justice Grant funds from the Governor’s office to Counties on their enforcement of federal immigration law.”

Kathryn Steinle was murdered by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, where similar selective enforcement is practiced.

President Trump vowed to crack down on cities who instate sanctuary directives during his campaign.

Abbott’s full letter is beneath:

Governor Abbott Letter to Travis County Sheriff, Sanctuary City by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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Henry Hawkins | January 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Yeeeeee haw! Go TX!

    My only concern is that the funding cuts will not be used to stop paying people like this sheriff. She and the rest of the political and academic crowd will get paid while the public suffers.

    As it is clear that she is breaking her oath, breaking state law and breaking federal law, maybe criminal, or at least punitive civil, actions should be taken against the sheriff and others like her.

      Sanddog in reply to JOHN B. | January 23, 2017 at 11:20 pm

      The public elected her. She ran on a platform that included not cooperating with the Feds. Maybe next time they’ll think before they vote.

      Milhouse in reply to JOHN B. | January 23, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      She’s not breaking federal law, because the tenth amendment protects her right to do this. She’s not breaking state law because Texas doesn’t yet have a law banning sanctuary cities; that’s why Abbot said he hoped the legislature would make such a law. If it does, then she will have to comply.

        Virginia42 in reply to Milhouse. | January 24, 2017 at 7:40 am

        She’s not breaking the law? On what planet, Milhouse? Refusal to enforcing existing immigration laws breaking the law. You don’t get to pick and choose.

          Tom Servo in reply to Virginia42. | January 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

          I gotta agree with Milhouse here. State level officials aren’t given the obligation or the authority to enforce federal law, unless there is a corresponding state law directing them to do so. Federalism and all that.

          For a simple example, County Sheriff’s have nothing at all to do with enforcing Income Tax provisions. If you get charges with avoiding your federal taxes, you gotta worry a lot about the fed’s, but the local Sheriff will never show up at your door.

          Milhouse in reply to Virginia42. | January 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

          The tenth amendment protects her right to refuse to enforce federal law, or to cooperate with federal law enforcement in any way she doesn’t want to. So there can’t exist any federal law that says she has to, any more than there can be a law censoring books.

          Unless there’s a state law that says otherwise, which apparently in TX isn’t the case yet, but soon will be.

The issue is not if this is a good idea or a bad idea. The issue is that it is an issue to start with.

Maybe Travis county should declare itself and all residents exempt from federal income tax.

About time Gov Abbott…I live in Austin and it’s out of control.

    GrumpyOne in reply to gonzotx. | January 23, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    …as do I and I can tell you that Austin is the Berkeley of the south. I have long languished at liberal mentality that is 180° opposite of good ol’ common sense.

    And don’t even attempt to reason with any of ’em unless you like verbal and possibly physical abuse…

Someone running for sheriff in my county saying they wouldn’t enforce immigration law would lose. Badly. OTOH, someone running for sheriff in my county who declared they would vigorously enforce the SAFE ACT- would lose.


Texas ain’t Kulhifornia. Which is why so many people are fleeing to Texas from the Collectivist nightmares in their states.

Don’t Mess With Texas?

Hell, Don’t Mess With Abbott!!!!

4th armored div | January 23, 2017 at 7:16 pm

can the Sherrie be impeached/recalled for dereliction of duties ?

    4th armored div in reply to 4th armored div. | January 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    to much sherry –sheriff or sharia enabler needs to lose her job

      Tom Servo in reply to 4th armored div. | January 23, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      Austin is always aggravated that they have to host a Republican legislature, and they try to aggravate the Governor and the Lege as much as they can. Sheriff Hernandez was elected specifically for that purpose, since Austin is mad that the Lege took their political investigative unit away from them and gave it to the Texas Rangers. (who answer to the Governor)

      So there’s a bit of a pissing contest going on, but the city is about to find out whose is bigger.

        Tom Servo in reply to Tom Servo. | January 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        p.s. For those who don’t remember or who don’t follow Texas politics, Austin had it’s political investigative unit taken away from it by the Lege since it had been used it to drum up some fake charges against Gov. Perry during his Presidential campaign. They fell apart completely, and in fact were derided by the Judge hearing the case as being totally baseless. But, the damage was done.

        And that, Austin, is why you can’t have nice things.

ugottabekiddinme | January 23, 2017 at 8:22 pm

God bless Texas, and Gov. Abbott!

As my own state is dominated by the 5 liberal counties whose populations overwhelm the voters of the other 34, I am glad to see this taking place in Texas, and hope the push to respect and restore the rule of law comes here soon.

Good on him. The sheriff is asserting her tenth amendment right not to enforce federal law, but that only works against the federal government, not against the state government. The tenth amendment does not protect counties from their state governments, so unless the TX constitution has some similar provision (which I don’t believe it does) the governor is completely in the right here.

    Virginia42 in reply to Milhouse. | January 24, 2017 at 7:43 am

    10th Amendment right to not enforce Federal law? Bizarre. Immigration enforcement is related to border security–a Federal responsibility. There is not 10th Amendment right to opt out.

      Milhouse in reply to Virginia42. | January 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Yes, the tenth amendment gives all states, and all their subsidiary units such as counties and cities, the right to refuse to enforce federal law or to cooperate with federal law enforcement. This is a long-hallowed part of US law. It’s the basis on which many state and local officials successfully refused to enforce the fugitive slave laws, prohibition, and the Brady law.

Sounds good; so …

Abbott gave Hernandez a February 1 deadline

… why the delay?

Crime doesn’t put itself on “hold” just because law enforcement is slacking off.

A conversation about emigration reform is long overdue.

    Milhouse in reply to n.n. | January 23, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Emigration reform? What needs to be reformed about emigration? are there any laws about people leaving? Should there be?

      Tom Servo in reply to Milhouse. | January 24, 2017 at 9:23 am

      This must be the same conversation where we try to solve the fate of World Jewelry.

        Milhouse in reply to Tom Servo. | January 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm

        Which we could certainly care a whole lot less about than we do.

        (One of the common errors that gets on my nerves is when people use “emigrate” instead of “immigrate” or just “migrate”. It’s not rocket surgery, people. Migrants come in two flavors, immigrants who are coming in, and emigrants who are leaving; every migrant is an emigrant from his old country and an immigrant to his new one.)

    Ragspierre in reply to n.n. | January 24, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Where have you been all century?

Enough threats only action, the only language they can understand.

Now we just have to do the same in Dallas and Houston. So tired of officials who pick and choose what laws to enforce.

buckeyeminuteman | January 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

I wish every state had a governor like Abbott

This Sheriff is certainly NOT a constitutional Sheriff ( and the locals should do a recall on her. Anyone doing this is a traitor to our republic and should be stripped of citizenship and deported as a domestic terrorist. We have seriously dangerous people in this Republic who are lawless and perverted… time to drain the local swamps as well, DON’T YOU THINK?