Newly elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s announcement last Friday that her department would not be cooperating with federal immigration authorities has inspired a brutal chastening by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
In a stern letter that was addressed to the sheriff on Monday, he wrote:
“As sheriff your primary duty is to ensure the safety of the residents of Travis County. However, your recent policy directive … 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.
This is not a pronouncement of sound public policy; it is a dangerous game of political Russian roulette — with the lives of Texans at stake.”
Governor Abbott also warned that unless Hernandez reversed her sanctuary city policy before Feb. 1., her county, which includes the city of Austin, would lose vital funding. He echoed this sentiment on Twitter as well.
The Governor’s Office will cut funding for Travis County adopting sanctuary policies. Stiffer penalties coming. https://t.co/yYxeXql3xL
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 20, 2017
According to Austin news station KVUE, the county would specifically lose out on Criminal Justice Division grant money, though the effects of this cut would not be felt until October, which is when last year’s $1.8 million grant money will be exhausted.
Speaking with the station, local judge Sarah Eckhardt claimed that the effects of the cut would be felt most by the county’s juvenile justice system.
“It hits the sheriff’s office very little at all,” she said. “It hits the county attorney’s office, the district attorney’s office, the civil court system and the juvenile probation system. It hardly touches the sheriff’s department.”
While that may be true, she neglected to mention the immense risks local children would face if Hernandez’s sanctuary policies remained in effect, as outlined in Governor Abbott’s letter:
“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 … will be turned loose into Travis County without permitting ICE the opportunity to collect them.”
Available for review here, the sheriff’s official policy states that department “officials shall not conduct or initiate any immigration status investigation into individuals in … custody or provide information on an inmate’s release date or address to ICE.”
In other words, she wants to let criminal aliens off the hook. Hopefully the governor’s threats will make her rethink her decision.