[2/2/17] Texas Republicans — from the governor’s office to the state senate — are at work to eliminate sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State. During his State of the State address on January 31, Governor Greg Abbott included banning sanctuary cities among four emergency items he wants to see put into effect in his state. (Sanctuary cities are those that have adopted a policy of not cooperating with federal immigration officials by sharing information about illegal aliens whom they have detained for other offenses, or holding such aliens so federal officers can pick them up and deport them.)
While Abbott wasn’t specific about what provisions a Texas anti-sanctuary law would include, his actions indicate it would include withholding state funding from such cities. As we noted in a recent article, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 25 stating that “jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 [sanctuary jurisdictions] are not eligible to receive Federal grants.”
Abbott’s official website posted a January 23 press release that stated he sent a letter to Travis County (Austin) Sheriff Sally Hernandez strongly urging her to reverse her policy directive forbidding Travis County Sheriff’s Office employees from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests — in effect making Travis County a sanctuary county.
In the letter, Abbott called Hernandez’ directive “dangerous” and “shortsighted.” He added that Hernandez’ decision is “not a pronouncement of sound public policy; it is a dangerous game of political Russian roulette—with the lives of Texans at stake.”
Abbott’s letter went on to explain that Hernandez’ policy, if not revoked before the February 1, 2017 effective date, would result in the forfeiture of subsequent grant money.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on February 1 that Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott blocked funding for sanctuary cities for the first time after Hernandez said the Travis County’s and Austin’s jails would no longer honor most federal immigration detainers.
The Star-Telegram reported that Travis County leaders condemned losing $1.5 million in grant money earmarked for crime victim services, courts, and other programs, and they voiced support for Hernandez. The report noted that Hernandez, an elected Democrat in Texas’ most liberal city, announced after Trump’s inauguration that her jails would only honor immigration holds in murder, aggravated sexual assault, and human trafficking cases.