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The growing divide in federal enforcement of immigration law

The ongoing “sanctuary city” battle between Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues. Now, others are joining the ongoing battle.

As part of new Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy that went into effect on February 1, The Department of Homeland Security has begun issuing detainer reports. The weekly updates identify so-called “sanctuary cities” where police released illegal immigrants despite requests by federal authorities to detain them.

The initial findings showed Travis County law enforcement refusing to honor 142 out of 206 detainers for aliens charged with a crime. That amount accounted for nearly 70 percent of declined detainers throughout the United States.

The Travis County Sheriff's Office disputed the report, claiming that number of declined detainer requests only involved 128 inmates.

In spite of 13 of her fellow sheriffs publicly supporting federal immigration laws, Sheriff Hernandez continues to resist federal enforcement of immigration laws. Travis County jails will not be holding tanks for offenders. Many of her peers claim that Travis County stands alone in enforcement of sanctuary city policies.

In addition to Governor Abbott cutting $1.5 million in state law enforcement grants dedicated to Travis County in February, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced similar penalties that involve withholding federal law enforcement grants.

Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, is also looking to take away the discretionary nature of these requests by making them legally binding. Senate Bill 4 would impose civil penalties, withdrawal of state funding, and criminal charges for those in leadership roles.

Travis County Sheriff’s Office Senior Public Information Officer Kristen Dark expressed concern that the bill that passed out of the Senate will change the way they currently operate.

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