The hero of Houston, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez ended blanket compliance with federal immigration detention requests for people in custody at the county jail suspected of being undocumented immigrants, reports the Austin Statesman.
On Wednesday, the day the policy went into effect, the sheriff’s office declined 196 detention requests that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made for suspected undocumented immigrants.
Under the new policy, the county jail only automatically honors ICE detention requests for inmates charged with or convicted of a narrow scope of crimes that include capital murder, murder and aggravated sexual assault. In every other case, the sheriff’s office will comply with ICE requests only if presented with a warrant or judicial order.
“Sanctuary cities” are broadly defined as communities that don’t fully comply with federal immigration requests.
Advocates on both sides of the issue say Travis County’s policy is the most liberal in Texas and among the most liberal in the nation.
Governor Abbott moved on the day of the sheriff’s sanctuary county policy announcement and stripped state grants from the department. Travis County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Kristen Dark confirmed the move by the sheriff to protect criminal aliens from federal officials will cost the taxpayers of Travis County $1.5 million this year. She also confirmed the sheriff is aware her department could also lose federal law enforcement grants if the Department of Justice certifies the county is not cooperating 100 percent with immigration officials under existing federal law.