Governor Greg Abbott Threatens to Cut Funding to Central Texas County
Gov. Abbott took to Twitter Friday to express outrage over Hernandez's pledge to scale back her department's cooperation with federal immigration agents.
Specifically, Hernandez would only comply with requests to detain prisoners suspected of being in the country illegally if they were booked into the Travis County Jail on charges of capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, or "continuous smuggling of persons".
"Under the previous detainer policy, an inmate who was charged with a crime was deported as soon as he posted bond or before his court date," Hernandez said in a video statement Friday. "As such, the inmate never went before a court, the victim and their family never had their day in court, and the inmate's criminal record would grow."
"This system does not foster public safety," she said. "Public safety is fostered whenever there is accountability and closure."
Hernandez went on to say that local officers should not be expected to question citizens trying to report a crime concerning any federal immigration issues, as it might deter people from reporting those crimes at all.
"The public must be confident that local law enforcement is focused on local public safety, not on federal immigration enforcement," Hernandez said. "Our jail cannot be perceived as a holding tank for ICE, or that Travis County deputies are ICE officers."
Gov. Abbott responded to Hernandez with a letter imploring her to reverse what he called a "sanctuary city policy".
“Under your reckless policy...dangerous criminal aliens convicted of felonies like murder; aggravated assault; human trafficking, including child sex trafficking; aggravated kidnapping; inducing sexual performance by a child or indecency with a child; dangerous gang activities; and the manufacture or delivery of deadly substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, GHB, PCP, and ketamine will be turned loose into Travis County without permitting ICE the opportunity to collect them," Abbott wrote. "I, too, have taken an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the State of Texas.” And my primary duty as Governor is to ensure the safety and security of Texans."
The grant money Abbott might withhold from Travis County would only amount to about 1% of its annual budget. In his letter, Abbott said he doesn't feel that's enough, and vowed to work with the Texas legislature to enact penalties upon "those who would put themselves above the law".