Governor Abbott To Travis County Sheriff: Reverse Sanctuary Policy Or Lose Funding

January 23, 2017 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today sent a letter to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez strongly urging her to reverse her policy directive forbidding Travis County Sheriff’s Office employees from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests. Failure by Sheriff Hernandez to reverse her policy directive will jeopardize millions of dollars in funding from the Governor’s office to Travis County.

Calling the directive “dangerous” and “shortsighted,” Governor Abbott writes that Sheriff Hernandez’s decision is “not a pronouncement of sound public policy; it is a dangerous game of political Russian roulette—with the lives of Texans at stake.”

Last year Governor Abbott conditioned all Criminal Justice Grant funds from the Governor’s office to Counties on their enforcement of federal immigration law.

Governor Abbott’s letter goes on to explain that Sheriff Hernandez’s policy, if not revoked before the February 1, 2017 effective date, will result in the forfeiture of subsequent grant money.

Furthermore, Governor Abbott reiterated his commitment to signing a bill that bans sanctuary cities in the State of Texas this legislative session.

Excerpts from Governor Abbott’s Letter to Sheriff Hernandez:

"As Sheriff your primary duty is to ensure the safety of the residents of Travis County. However, your recent policy directive forbidding Travis County Sherriff’s Office (TCSO) employees from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (except in the most limited of circumstances) betrays your oath and the residents of Travis County. I strongly urge you to reverse that policy before its effective date of February 1, 2017."


“Your shortsighted policy ignores those astounding figures and would permit TCSO employees to comply with an ICE detainer request in only the most limited of circumstances. Under your reckless policy, for example, 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."


"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."


"During the pending legislative session, I will be working with the Texas legislature to do more to protect our citizens from misguided and dangerous sanctuary policies like yours. Your reckless actions endangering the safety of Texans will provide powerful testimony for the need to strengthen Texas law. It will make clear that conditioning state funding on compliance with federal immigration laws is not enough. Rather, Texas must enact tough penalties that punish those who would put themselves above the law—and even above the community they purportedly serve."