Sanctuary Cities: FOX 7 obtains City of Austin funding list

Staying true to her campaign promise, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez outlined her new jail policy last Friday.
               
Starting on February 1, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or "ICE" will have to get a federal warrant before the jail honors a federal hold on an undocumented immigrant.
               
She says the old policy tied up deputies and created distrust between the community and law enforcement.

"We will work with federal immigration officials but this office will not increase our liability or set unwise public safety priorities simply to ease the burden of the federal government," Hernandez said in a pre-recorded video last week.

On Monday, Governor Abbott sent a strongly-worded letter to Hernandez urging her to change the policy by February 1 -- or lose $1.8 million in Criminal Justice grant money.

Several bills have been filed under the dome this session that would crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities."

Republican State Rep. Paul Workman from Travis County filed one of those bills.  He says the Governor is doing the right thing. 

"She's choosing to do it, all she's got to do is honor those ICE detainers and the county won't lose that money," Workman said.  "Sheriff Hamilton did for years and there were no issues with that.  And I have to believe there are some bad guys that got deported that should have been deported," he said.

Abbott's actions this time will only affect Travis County.  But depending on what happens in the legislature this session, more sanctuary cities could lose grant money. 

FOX 7 obtained an e-mail chain being sent to representatives in different City of Austin departments.  In response to fears about losing funding if the sanctuary city bills pass, the recipients were compiling a list of federal and state grants the city currently receives.  The rough estimate at the time of the e-mail was more than $50 million.

Nearly $10 million come from the State of Texas alone.

Mayor Steve Adler says he has seen the document and it wasn't a surprise to him.

"I haven't heard anyone suggest that we're in danger of losing that much money for any reason.  And that makes sense to me because it would be both unconstitutional and violative of law if we were threatened with the loss of all that money," Adler said.

Adler believes Travis County is following the law and says Austin has never adopted any sort of ordinance declaring itself a sanctuary city.

"I understand there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city so I'm not sure what it is...so I'm not sure who the bills would apply to," he said.

But the Mayor understands that having the list is a good idea.

"I think it's a question that some of the council members were asking, I was asking, people in the community were asking...just how much money do we get from the federal government and state government?  So I think it's an important number to know.  But it's not something to get frightened over or scared over it's just...the answer to that question," Adler said.

To see the document we obtained, click here.

 

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