Texas Governor Blocks Funds to Austin for Being a Sanctuary City | Sojourners

Texas Governor Blocks Funds to Austin for Being a Sanctuary City

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made good this week on his threats to restrict funding from any cities offering protection to immigrants who are undocumented, reports CBS News.

On Wednesday, Abbott witheld $1.5 million in grant funds from Travis County, which includes Texas' capital city of Austin. The reason for Abbott's action was apparently Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez' refusal to enforce federal immigration orders. 

According to TIME, Hernandez was elected in November and has instructed her deputies not to ask people held in custody about their immigration status. The dispute between the Texas governor and the Austin sheriff over immigration and deportation has been ongoing. 

Hernandez said in a statement that while she respects the job of state leaders, she won't allow "fear and misinformation" guide her in her job. She continued:

I am following all state and federal laws, and upholding constitutional rights to due process for all in our criminal justice system. Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation. I trust the court system and our judges to assess the risks and set appropriate bonds and conditions for all who are incarcerated. The voters, who elected state leaders and me, expect and deserve a collaborative effort to come up with solutions to this very complex issue. That is precisely what I’m committed to.

Abbott seeks the power to fire local Texas officials if they don't adhere to the federal immigration orders. In a letter to Abbott, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced her belief that Hernandez's decision to not enforce the federal immigration orders is lawful. 

"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," she wrote.

Last week, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate began pushing a ban on sanctuary cities in the state. 

Eckhardt also wrote to Abbott concerning the grants funding, saying, "These grants help Travis County serve women, children, families and veterans. They are unrelated to immigration and none are under the management of the Sherriff's Office."

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), told the San Antonio Express-News the cuts would hurt many. 

“Not a single dollar of the (Governor’s) Criminal Justice Division grants are allocated to or administered by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office,” said state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin. “Instead, these resources are used to help veterans get back on their feet, support victims of family violence, reunite children with parents in recovery and reach our youth before they become involved with the criminal justice system in ways that will affect their entire lives.”

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