Days after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez released a video detailing her policy concerning U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers in local jails, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday he will seek new laws that would remove her from office, KVUE's and the Austin American-Statesman's Tony Plohetski reports.
BREAKING: Gov. Abbott says he will seek new laws that would remove Sheriff Sally Hernandez from office over jail policy.— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) January 25, 2017
The sheriff's policy, which she said will be effective Feb. 1, will only honor immigration detainers when the suspect is booked into the Travis County Jail on charges of capital murder, aggravated sexual assault and "continuous smuggling of persons."
Hernandez said that Travis County Sheriff's Office will continue to cooperate with fellow local, state and federal law enforcement and immigration officials, but the office "will not increase our liability or set unwise public safety priorities simply to ease the burden of the federal government."
In an interview with Fox News Wednesday morning, Abbott said that in addition to stripping the county of state grant money, he is now working with other lawmakers to write a new law that would include both civil and criminal penalties for any official he said is creating a "sanctuary city."
"We are going to crack down on this and ban sanctuary cities in Texas," Abbott told Fox News. "These sheriff's offices receive grants from the governor's office in the state of Texas, we are cutting off those grants to any sanctuary city. But however, we are in a Legislative session -- we are working on laws that will, one, ban sanctuary cities, remove from office any office holder who promotes sanctuary cities and impose criminal penalties as well as financial penalties."
Prior to the Fox News interview, Abbott told Hernandez in a three-page letter that her directive betrays her oath and the residents of Travis County. He also urged her to reverse the policy before it goes into effect.
“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,” Abbott wrote in the letter.
Open this story to read the letter in full.
Following the interview, Texas Democrats released a statement saying, "No one made Greg Abbott the emperor of Texas. He cannot overturn the will of Texas voters. The very core of our representative democracy is the fact that citizens elect office holders who best represent their values."
Here is a statement from ICE:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) focuses on smart, effective immigration enforcement. Custody determinations are made on a case-by-case basis by prioritizing serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety. ICE continually strives to build partnerships with our state and local law enforcement agencies in Texas to develop procedures to best address community safety.