A Texas sheriff dubbed “Sanctuary Sally” by her opponent during her election campaign, appears to be ready to live up to her campaign promise to not enforce the law regarding criminal illegal aliens.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez is expected to announce that her jail, located in Texas’ capital city, will no longer honor immigration detainers placed on criminals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday evening. The move could cost the county millions in state and local law enforcement grants.
Travis County Budget Director Travis Gatlin sent a memo to other county officials notifying them that “according to Hernandez, the county will no longer be complying with a state rule that the county honor such federal requests in order to receive some grant money,” according to the local newspaper.
Travis County Sheriff Spokesperson Kristen Dark confirmed to Breitbart Texas Wednesday morning that Sheriff Hernandez sill has not made a formal announcement of a change in policy. However, the local news outlet reported that Gatlin’s memo said, “[S]heriff Hernandez has informed (the budget office) that she will not be able to provide the required certification” for the grant funds.
Breitbart Texas reported in September that then-candidate Hernandez had made a campaign pledge to get ICE officials out of the Travis County jail. Under the previous Democrat sheriff, there were ICE agents working directly with the jail and the department honored immigration detainers. It appears that practice is about to end.
“I just don’t think you solve the criminal justice process by deporting them,” Hernandez told The Texas Tribune during a sit-down interview in her office in September. “We talk about being progressive. I believe we need to lead the way.”
Her campaign website stated, “I believe that the current relationship between the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must end. Travis County should not honor illegal, warrantless ICE notifications or detainer requests, period.”
Her opponent in the race gave her the moniker “Sanctuary Sally,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.
One of those criminal aliens with an immigration detainer is a 5-time deportee, Nicondemo Coria-Gonzales. The Mexican national with a U.S. criminal history now stands accused of assaulting and raping at least nine Travis County women.
The move to stop enforcing the law will likely come with a cost. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has threatened to deny law enforcement grants to any jurisdiction that sets itself up as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Austin American-Statesman estimates that could cost Travis County $1.8 million in funds.
Gatlin told the county officials in his memo, “We are hopeful OOG (the office of the governor) will ultimately decide to continue funding our valuable programs,” he said. That does not appear likely.
Governor Abbott took note of the new sheriff’s threat to stop enforcing the law and Tweeted, “I am about to up the ante. No more sanctuary cities in Texas.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 18, 2017
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhard told the Austin newspaper that losing the state grants could force the county to have to find other sources of money to fund support programs including family violence education, and anti-prostitution efforts.
State grants are not the only funds that could be stripped from Sheriff Hernandez’ department. Failure cooperate with federal immigration officials is against the law and the Department of Justice (DOJ) can use existing law to strip federal law enforcement grants.
The DOJ’s Office of Inspector General is currently working through a list of more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions supplied to them by U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX). The agency has already notified the top ten sanctuary jurisdictions they are not in compliance with the law and will not be eligible for future grants. This includes the entire states of California and Connecticut.
“The law requires cooperation with immigration officials 100 percent of the time,” Culberson told Breitbart Texas in an exclusive interview in November.
“The critical steps have already been taken,” Chairman Culberson stated. “President Trump and Attorney General Sessions will, on day one, be able to strip the funding from these sanctuary jurisdictions simply by enforcing existing law.”
The legislative intent of the law, the DOJ OIG explained in a report certifying the sanctuary jurisdictions as not being in compliance, is “to prevent any State or local law, ordinance, executive order, policy, constitutional provision, or decision of any Federal or State court that prohibits or in any way restricts any communication between State and local officials and the INS.”
Using the “power of the purse” entrusted to Congress, Culberson said he has been able to “step on the air hose” of the DOJ and force the certification of ten sanctuary jurisdictions as not being in compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, an existing law that requires 100 percent cooperation from local and state jurisdictions in order to receive DOJ grant funding. The law was passed during the Clinton Administration.
“99 percent is not good enough,” Culberson stated. “These jurisdictions must cooperate 100 percent in order to qualify for these DOJ grants. They must choose between protecting illegal aliens and receiving federal funds.”
Breitbart Texas spoke with Culberson in December about Sheriff Hernandez’ plans to make Travis County a sanctuary jurisdiction. He said that as soon as it is official, he will be adding her department to the list supplied to the DOJ.
Several Sanctuary City bills have been filed by legislators in the new Texas legislative session which began in January. Breitbart Texas reported on one such bill filed by State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock).
“By electing a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress, the American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority,” Senator Charles Perry said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “That starts by eliminating sanctuary cities, securing our border, and enforcing the immigration laws we currently have on the books. We cannot sit idly by and allow local policies to undercut efforts made at the federal and state level.”
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “No city in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law. We will end this practice once and for all this session.”