A new proposed policy, that would put an end to most requests by federal immigration officials at the Travis County jail, could prove to be a costly move if enacted by recently elected Sheriff Sally Hernandez.
According to a memo obtained by KVUE and the Austin-American Statesman, Budget Director Travis Gatlin said if the policy is followed through, Travis County could lose $1.8 million in state grants. The loss corresponds to a state funding rule that states counties cooperate with federal "immigration holds" in order to obtain money.
Although Hernandez has not formally announced her policy, Gatlin announced in the memo that moves were already being made to start the process of limiting the county's relationship with ICE. For instance, Hernadez told the budget office she would not be able to provide the required certification Gov. Greg Abbott's office would need to administer grants.
"As noted on the OOG's website, failure to submit a certification ...will result in denial of all applications that benefit the department and may result in denial of applications submitted by other departments or subdivisions of the county or municipality, at OOG's sole discretion," Gatlin wrote.
For voters in Travis County, this revelation of Hernandez's stance should not come as a surprise. Limiting ICE's relationship with the county was one of her main campaign goals.
With the current system that allows federal agents to review the national database for possible undocumented immigrants, critics have argued that often times people can be deported for minor crimes. Sometimes suspects are also indefinitely held until it is determined they were in the country legally.
If Hernandez's policy is enacted, detainees might be able to post bond and be released on a pending charge. As a result, their case would be handled through the court systems.
KVUE reached out to Hernandez for a comment, but have yet to hear back. This story will be updated when it is received.