Sheriff Sally Hernandez of Travis County, Texas, made good on her campaign promise of scaling back her cooperation with federal immigration officials to screen inmates for deportation, reports the Texas Tribune.
“The public must be confident that local law enforcement is focused on local public safety, not on federal immigration enforcement,” Hernandez said. She said that her jail is not a place to house federal immigration offenders and that her policy will save taxpayer money, reports the Tribune.
However, the announcement sets up a battle between Hernandez and Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who have made a commitment to get rid of “sanctuary cities.” Sanctuary cities is a term used to define law enforcement officials who refuse to enforce immigration laws.
Hernandez said holding a person longer than required by law is a violation of that person’s rights and said her job is to protect public safety, the Tribune reports.
“This office will not increase our liability or set unwise public safety priorities simply to ease the burden of the federal government,” she said.
However, the sheriff’s office reported it will retain people with serious crimes like capital murder, first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling.
Hernandez said she would comply with the government’s requests if their officers follow the law by obtaining a warrant from a judge ordering the confinement.
Governor Abbott’s response was different. In a tweet Friday evening, he stated, “The Governor’s Office will cut funding [for] Travis County for adopting sanctuary policies. Stiffer penalties [are] coming.”