"I am enforcing the law. And I'm obeying the law and I'm confident in the position that I'm in," Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez told Fox 7 Friday in a one-on-one interview. Hernandez is not afraid of losing her job.
Governor Greg Abbott said earlier in the week that she would be removed from office if she didn't change her mind about implementing a new ICE detainer policy on February 1.
Starting next Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will have to get a federal warrant first -- putting an end to the county's participation in what Hernandez refers to as a "voluntary civil program." She believes the new policy is better than the way detainer requests have been handled before.
"That request will hold somebody and if that person makes bond then they go into deportation hearings. That person may or may not be held accountable for the crime that they've committed," Hernandez said.
Hernandez says the new policy also saves money. According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards' "Immigration Detainer Report" from November, Travis County held 253 inmates that month which cost them $639,400.05. But Hernandez says there's even more costs on top of that.
"Especially if there's lawsuits that arise out of those detainers. There have been a number of times when people have been legally in the United States and immigration has placed a detainer on that person," she said.
Earlier on Friday, city and county leaders like Mayor Steve Adler, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Council Member Greg Casar showed support for Hernandez during a press conference downtown.
Casar addressed Abbott's comments about Hernandez being removed from office.
"I don't know who died and made Greg Abbott 'Putin'...but the last time I checked, we live in a democracy and in this democracy the voters choose who will be their elected officials," Casar said.
This week Governor Abbott delivered an ultimatum to Hernandez. Change your mind before February 1 or lose $1.8 million in Criminal Justice grant money. According to Judge Eckhardt that's money that goes to programs like Veterans Court, drug diversion court and prostitute prevention.
"Those programs don't have anything to do with immigration," Hernandez said.
Hernandez says it's unfortunate leaders are taking that approach.
"I would like to see that not be their first choice but rather they take into consideration how complex that this issue is and want to come to the table and talk about how we can come up with solutions to these problems," she said.
Sheriff Hernandez says she's confident the Travis County Commissioners Court will help get them through this.
But Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty is against Hernandez's policy.
He says losing the $1.8 million is frightening. And he says not to count on him to find money elsewhere to keep those programs going because it may fall on the taxpayers.