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Texas Sanctuary Sheriff Defiant: Demands Federal Funds

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Following Monday’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is withholding federal law enforcement grants from sanctuary jurisdictions, a Texas sheriff quickly tried to claim this action would not apply to her county.

AG Sessions announced his intent to withhold billions of dollars from sanctuary jurisdictions during a White House press briefing, Breitbart Texas reported. “Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373 (1373),” Sessions stated. “Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.”

“This guidance requires state and local jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants,” the AG explained. “It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.”

“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” General Sessions concluded. “Such policies make their cities and states less safe. Public safety as well as national security are at stake and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.”

In a report issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 20 detailing sanctuary jurisdictions that released criminal aliens under an immigration detainer, Travis County ranked number one in the nation, Breitbart Texas reported. Well over 70 percent of the 206 criminal aliens released by sanctuary jurisdictions during the week of January 28-Februay 3, were released by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Travis County Sheriff “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez quickly issued a press release denying that any of Sessions’ remarks apply to her office. Her written statement claims:

Travis County Sheriff’s Office is completely lawful and upholding the Constitution with our ICE policy. We are also in full compliance with 8 USC 1373. Our policy states in item #10 that “This policy in no way prohibits or restricts sending information to or requesting or receiving information from ICE regarding an individual’s immigration or citizenship status, and nothing in this policy shall be construed to prohibit or restrict TCSO personnel from exchanging information regarding the immigration or citizenship status of any individual with ICE.”

Our ICE policy is in place to uphold our status as one of the safest counties in the nation as well as to reduce Travis County’s liability by requiring ICE to provide warrants rather than requests.

Breitbart Texas reached out to the Department of Justice for a reaction to the sheriff’s proclamation. Officials declined to comment beyond the AG’s initial statements made by the AG from the White House.

U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX) said her claims are not true. Culberson, as head of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, has been working with the Department of Justice for over a year to have 1373 enforced by stripping law enforcement grants from non-complying jurisdictions, Breitbart Texas reported.

“She’s in for a surprise,” Culberson told Breitbart Texas in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “The new rule is simple. She must comply 100 percent with both sharing information with immigration officials and honoring detainers.”

“The law is very clear. She cannot interfere with immigration officials in any way,” the Houston-based congressman said. “Simply sharing information is not enough. She has no choice but to comply with immigration detainers or lose federal grant money.”

“The goal here is not to strip funds from these agencies that help them keep their communities safe,” Culberson concluded. “The goal is to have them change their policies to protect the lives and property of their taxpayers.”

Culberson explained the 2017 grant process is just beginning. To obtain these grants, Travis County (and any other applicant) must certify their compliance with 1373.

As for her “concerns” about potential liability from holding a criminal immigrant based solely on an immigration hold, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton debunked her argument in February in a letter issued regarding Texas Senate Bill 4, the “Sanctuary City” bill, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported. Following the Senate hearing on the bill that raised many of the issues over which Hernandez expressed concern, Paxton wrote, “the legal concerns raised at the hearing on the bill are unfounded.” Paxton stated that questions raised about whether counties could be liable for holding inmates pursuant to a wrongful detainer are without merit. In that instance, a county’s good faith in honoring a federal immigration detainer will avoid liability in a civil rights action.

It appears Sanctuary Sally (a moniker given to the sheriff by her election opponent) is choosing to carry out a political promise that has already cost her taxpayers the loss of $1.5 million in state law enforcement grants and likely will cost them millions more in the loss of federal grants.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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