Published February 02, 2017
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blocked funding to Austin on Wednesday after its sheriff said the city’s jails would no longer honor most federal immigration detainers.
Abbott’s move begins a crackdown over sanctuary city policies in the state. The Republican governor is also pushing to sign new laws that could go even further than President Donald Trump’s new executive actions against sanctuary policies.
Travis County officials condemned Abbott’s decision, which would cost Austin 1.5 million in grant money earmarked for crime victim services, courts and other programs. They stood by Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who announced after Trump’s inauguration that her jails would only honor immigration holds I murder, aggravated sexual assault and human trafficking cases.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt wrote in a letter to Abbott that she was confident the sheriff is within the law.
“I am certain you have come to the same conclusion; else you would not be seeking to change current State law to put all Texas Sheriffs in the service of the United States Department of Homeland Security,” Eckhardt wrote.
The revoked funds came a day after Abbott used his State of the State address to declare a “sanctuary city” ban an urgent priority for lawmakers. A Senate committee on Thursday is expected to vote on a bill that would deny state grant funds to jurisdictions that discourage “inquiring into the immigration status of a person under lawful detention or arrest.”