Texas’ capital county faces the loss of millions of dollars in state funding as a result of the Travis County sheriff’s sanctuary policies when a new bill that outlaws the same passes the legislature. Texas Governor Greg Abbott made abolishing sanctuary jurisdictions in Texas an emergency item for this year’s legislative session.
Senate Bill 4, introduced by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), contains provisions to remove funding from sanctuary jurisdictions who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Travis County Sheriff “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez became the bullseye on this target in February when she announced a dramatic reduction in her county’s jails level of cooperation with immigration officials, Breitbart Texas reported.
Governor Abbott quickly took action and stripped the county of about $1.5 million in state law enforcement grants.
SB4 passed the Texas Senate one week after the new Travis County policy went into effect. The straight party-line vote came days after a committee hearing on the bill where hundreds testified well into the night.
The bill is now making its way through the Texas House where it is expected to pass with some modifications. Governor Abbott’s office is evaluating the federal and state funding Travis County receives to determine what funds can be taken away, Watchdog.org reported. Seventy-four state agencies sent money to Travis County.
“Travis County currently receives $125 million in state and federal grants that flow through the Office of the Governor,” Governor Abbott’s spokesman John Wittman told Breitbart Texas on Tuesday. “The governor’s office is currently evaluating how much of that $125 million could be taken away under SB4.”
The county’s total budget runs just under $1 billion, Watchdog reported.
While Travis County officials declined to respond to Watchdog’s questions about SB4 and their sanctuary policies, El Paso County, which also could become a target of the bill, threatened to sue the State if the bill passes and becomes law. Officials stated they would have to raise taxes or cut spending to offset expected funding cuts from the state. Complying with the law and cooperating with immigration authorities does not appear to be an option El Paso County is considering.
“We only have X amount of dollars. People think about magic money and we don’t have it,” El Paso Chief Performance Officer Nancy Bartlett said in a KFOX News interview.
One organization, Open the Books, reported that Travis County receives a total of $225 million in federal grants and direct payments.
Last year, U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) worked with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to certify ten sanctuary jurisdictions, including the entire states of Connecticut and California, and strip them of future federal law enforcement grants. Following the announcement of sanctuary policies by Sheriff Hernandez, Culberson told Breitbart Texas he notified the DOJ and requested that Travis County be added to the list. Once certified, the county would not be eligible to receive these grants until they are 100 percent in compliance with cooperating with immigration officials.
“99 percent is not good enough,” Culberson stated in a December interview with Breitbart Texas. “These jurisdictions must cooperate 100 percent to qualify for these DOJ grants. They must choose between protecting illegal aliens and receiving federal funds.”
It appears Travis and El Paso Counties are more interested in protecting criminal aliens than their taxpayers.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Governor Abbott’s office about the impact of SB4 on Travis County.