It also allows a look at the complications that result from our federal system, including conflicts involving the fact that county sheriffs are elected, and implement the law in accordance with the desires of the local community. If the community if Austin, then those decisions can put you in the cross hairs of the much more conservative state legislature.
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Conservatives already love to bash Austin — that bag-ban loving, Uber-hating, Democrat-electing enclave in the center of the most Republican mega state in the country.
Now the Texas capital city is poised to get the biggest target yet on its back: it is likely to become the first true “sanctuary city” in GOP-ruled Texas.
In a move that would defy not just Republican orthodoxy but also the Obama administration’s policy on deporting criminal immigrants, the county where Austin sits is on the verge of ending cooperation with the federal government on immigration matters.
That’s because the Democratic candidate for Travis County sheriff, Constable Sally Hernandez, has promised to get U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, out of the county jail. More specifically, she says she won’t hold inmates for ICE when the federal agency seeks to remove them from the country.
“I just don’t think you solve the criminal justice process by deporting them,” Hernandez told The Texas Tribune during a sit-down interview in her office this week. “We talk about being progressive. I believe we need to lead the way.”
Hernandez has a GOP opponent, Joe Martinez, who favors cooperating with ICE by holding immigrants the agency wants, as does the current sheriff of Travis County, Democrat Greg Hamilton. But with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ballot and local politics being what they are — i.e., heavily stacked against anyone with an R next to their name — Hernandez is all but a shoo-in.
For his part, Martinez said if elected he would tweak current rules at the jail and only hand over the worst offenders to ICE, so changes are coming no matter which one of them is elected.
Groups mentioned in this article
- Travis County Sheriffs Department
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Sheriffs Association of Texas
- Texas Legislature
- Austin City Council
- Travis County Commissioners Court