Texas Governor Greg Abbott is yanking funds from the city of Austin as a result of the sheriff’s insistence that her jails would not comply with federal immigration authorities. Abbott, who promised earlier this year to make life very difficult for sanctuary cities in Texas, is also pushing for new state laws to prevent local officials from protecting illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.
Austin lies within Travis County, which is under the purview of Sheriff Sally Hernandez. After President Trump was sworn in, Hernandez said that her jails would no longer honor federal detention requests unless the individual was charged with murder, human trafficking, or aggravated sexual assault. This statement attracted the ire of Gov. Abbott, who is now yanking $1.5 million in grant money that was intended for the city of Austin.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt rebuked the governor’s decision. In a letter to Abbott, she said she was certain that Hernandez was within her legal rights to shield detainees from deportation.
“I am certain you have come to the same conclusion; else you would not be seeking to change current State law to put all Texas Sheriffs in the service of the United States Department of Homeland Security,” Eckhardt wrote.
Last week, in his State of the State address, Gov. Abbott informed Texas lawmakers that he was intent on banning sanctuary cities, and he asked the legislature for their help in getting it done. Among other items, Republicans in the Lone Star state are considering a bill that would cut off state funds to any jurisdiction that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Of course, Texas is only one of many states struggling with the 300+ cities and countries across the nation that have sanctuary policies on the books. The Obama administration gently discouraged these cities, but President Trump has made it clear that he’s going to do everything in his power to gain compliance. Legal battles are sure to follow; now we’ll see whether residents of Austin, San Francisco, and other sanctuary cities are willing to sacrifice funds to protect illegal immigrants.