Office of the Governor - Greg Abbott

Governor Abbott Issues Letter On Dallas County Sheriff's Refusal To Honor Federal Immigration Detainer Policy

Monday, October 26, 2015  •  Austin, Texas  •  Press Release
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Governor Greg Abbott today issued a letter calling on Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to reverse her unilaterally enacted policy of refusing to automatically detain all criminal immigrants pursuant to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) federal detainer program, which is designed to prevent dangerous criminals from being released into communities.

"'Sanctuary City' policies like those promoted by your recent decision to implement your own case-by-case immigrant detention plan will no longer be tolerated in Texas," Governor Abbott said in the letter to Sheriff Valdez. "Your decision to not fully honor ICE's requests to detain criminal immigrants poses a serious danger to Texans. These detainers provide ICE with the critical notice and time it needs to take incarcerated immigrants into federal custody."

Immigration detainers issued by ICE merely constitute a request that the Dallas County Sheriff’s office provide federal immigration authorities an opportunity to collect and remove criminal immigrants in their custody before they are released – a longstanding policy honored by the Dallas County Sheriff’s office up until Sheriff Valdez's decision.

"Your refusal to fully participate in a federal law enforcement program intended to keep dangerous criminals off the streets leaves the State no choice but to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our fellow Texans," Governor Abbott continued. "Now more than ever, it is essential that state, federal, and local law enforcement work collaboratively to protect our fellow Texans and to ensure that our laws are upheld, not disregarded."

Governor Abbott included the following actions the State could take to combat policies like those promoted by Sheriff Valdez:

  • Passing laws that prohibit any policy or action that promotes sanctuary to people in this state illegally.
  • Enacting laws that make it illegal for a Sheriff's Department to not honor a federal immigration detainer request.
  • Evaluating the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for Texas' health and education systems.
  • Amending the Tort Claims Act to ensure counties are fully financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county's Sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.

To read Governor Abbott’s letter to Sheriff Valdez, click here.