A Texas sheriff is actively promoting visas to the illegal immigrant community. The sheriff is preparing pamphlets advising certain illegal immigrants how they might qualify for special visas.
Travis County Sheriff “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez came up with the idea of instructing crime victims who happen to be in the country illegally on how they can apply for a “U visa,” Fox 7 in Austin reported. Merely filing out the application for the visa, intended to help true crime victims, is enough to at least temporarily block immigration officials from deporting an applicant.
Her work continues to propagate the myth that Texas’ new sanctuary city law (previously known as Senate Bill 4) is a threat to crime victims.
During the final days of the debate, several Texas law enforcement officials joined together penning an op-ed published in April by the Dallas Morning News. The police chiefs stated:
Officers would start inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, inquire about the immigration status of people based on their appearance. This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community. And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.
Distrust and fear of contacting or assisting the police have already become evident among legal immigrants. Legal immigrants are beginning to avoid contact with the police for fear that they themselves or undocumented family members or friends may become subject to immigration enforcement.
Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups will result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims, and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing crime.
Their statement ignores the fact that SB 4 specifically prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of a crime victim or a witness to a crime, unless the information is pertinent to the crime as in the case of human smuggling or sex trafficking crimes.
ARITCLE 6, SECTION 6.01 Article 2.13: (I)n the course of investigating an alleged criminal offense, a peace officer may inquire ast o the nationality or immigration status of a victim of or witness to the offense only if the officer determines that the inquiry is necessary to: (1) Investigate the offense; or (2) provide the victim or witness with information about federal visas designed to protect individuals providing assistance to law enforcement.
In apparently ignoring this section of the new law (effective September 1, 2017), the Travis County Sheriff’s Office is preparing to pro-actively distribute flyers. These flyers could be used to teach people how to abuse or take advantage of a program designed to protect true victims of or witnesses to crimes.
“I think that just with the political climate in general across the U.S. that we have victims not reporting crime and that’s a concern for us. I mean, we care about all of the victims regardless of immigration status. We want to make sure that we have an avenue to ensure them they’re safe to come and speak with us,” Captain Craig Smith of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 7 News.
Sheriff Hernandez is having the pamphlets printed up to begin distribution, Travis County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Kristin Dark told Breitbart Texas in an email response. It is currently being published in English and Spanish, despite the fact that Travis County has immigrant communities speaking many different languages. The report by Fox 7 does not state what funds the sheriff is using to pay for these pamphlets. Dark told Breitbart Texas she would research the source of funding.
The sheriff’s office told the local Fox affiliate they currently receive about 10 U visa applications per month. They stated the department attempts to process the visas within 30 days to forward to immigration officials.
The federal government issues approximately 10,000 U visas per year. Victims or witnesses granted approval receive up to four years of protected status. They are required to cooperate with law enforcement regarding prosecuting the crime they witnessed or were a victim of. While the application is pending, the applicant cannot be removed from the U.S., Fox 7 reported.
At least one Democrat Texas sheriff stood up to tell the truth about SB 4. Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra joined with local chiefs of police in the Rio Grande Valley to try and calm the flames of fear being fanned by others across the state. “As Texas Governor Greg Abbott has stated [SB 4] is simply a mechanism such that when someone has a criminal record, or who is also wanted by [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], they are going to be detained and turned over to ICE,” Sheriff Guerra told local reporters. “If you have not committed a crime, regardless of your immigration status, and unless you are subject to an ICE detainer, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Sheriff Guerra told the McAllen newspaper, The Monitor, “To all the people we serve, we want you to know we are here to help you. We want you to continue working with us. Now more than ever we all need to work together – we need to encourage you to report crimes, suspicious activity and fugitives, so that we may all enjoy a better quality of life and a safer community.”
In contrast to Sheriff Guerra’s honesty about the new law, Breitbart Texas reported that Travis County Sheriff “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez teamed up with four other Texas sheriffs to claim that “FBI crime statistics have found that labeled ‘sanctuary’ cities experience lower rates of all crime types, including homicides.” Although fact checkers at the left-of-center PolitiFact admitted that the FBI report does not exist, they still dubbed the statements “Half-True.” “In my book, a ‘half true’ for an open borders study from Politifact means it was definitely bogus,” Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughn told Breitbart Texas. “It means ‘we would like it to be true, but it wasn’t.’”