The Travis County Sheriff’s Office announced a new policy Friday of limiting cooperation with detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants.
The changes, which make Austin a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction for deportable migrants, puts incoming Sheriff Sally Hernandez at odds with both President Donald Trump and Republicans in the Texas Legislature who are pushing bills to crack down on undocumented immigrants. And just hours after Hernandez’s announcement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to cut state funding to Travis County.
Bob Libal, the director of the immigrant rights group Grassroots Leadership, cheered the Travis County policy, describing it as the culmination of years of pressure from activists.
“This sends a really loud and clear message that Travis County is against the mass deportation of our community members,” Libal told The Huffington Post. “And that is an incredibly important message to send today as Donald Trump is inaugurated, promising mass deportations and human rights violations in the immigrant community.”
The group is still pressing for further limitations to ICE holds and to restrict local police from asking about immigration status, however.
Supporters of limiting ICE holds contend that using local law enforcement agencies to help with federal immigration undermines trust in immigrant communities, drains local resources and unfairly ensnares victims of crime into the deportation process. In cases of domestic abuse, for example, police sometimes arrest both parties after an altercation.