“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:
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