In Austin, some courts might have to be crowdfunded.
That’s because the city is what President Donald Trump calls a “sanctuary city”—and it’s facing extraordinary pressure, both political and financial, to join the Trump administration’s mass deportation efforts.
Austin is in Travis County, where its so-called sanctuary policy has already cost it $1.5 million in state funding that would have paid for drug courts, veterans’ courts, and aid to domestic violence victims.
Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and other advocates of tougher immigration enforcement urge local police and sheriffs to help ICE in its deportation efforts. But many local law enforcement officials—including including Travis County’s new sheriff, Sally Hernandez—are hesitant, fearing that undocumented immigrants will be less likely to help police track down dangerous criminals if those police are in cahoots with ICE.
When Hernandez announced the county wouldn’t always cooperate with Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott cut state funding to the county.
So the sheriff’s supporters are now crowdfunding to make up for the lost cash—cash that pays for special courts designed to help War on Terror veterans with PTSD and parents with drug addictions. And it’s unlikely to be an anomaly, as Austin has become a national focal point in Trump’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
That’s a lot of pressure by itself—lost funding, and even the threat of prison. But some say it’s not all. Bob Libal, who heads the anti-deportation group Grassroots Leadership, told The Daily Beast in February that he thought ICE deportation raids taking in place in Austin were retaliation for Hernandez’s policy. Since then, a federal magistrate judge said she shared that view.
Libal said he thinks ICE crackdowns will continue.
“We fully anticipate that we will continue to be a target,” he said.