Exclusive: Local law enforcement on SB4

- The "sanctuary cities" law is back in the spotlight in Austin tonight, with community members getting their questions answered straight from local officials.

FOX 7 spoke exclusively with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who said her hope is to be trusted.

The town hall meeting Monday was a chance for the community to better understand the law. As we've learned, it's also confusing to those enforcing it.

When it comes to SB4, the "sanctuary cities" law, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has been faced with a lot of pressure on what to do and what not to do.

"We are complying with the 5th Circuit's ruling and we are honoring "detainers" in the Travis County Jail," said Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff's Office. 

Their policy was recently updated on September 25th after a federal appeals court ruled Texas could enforce part of the "sanctuary cities" law. This left some community members at a town hall meeting Monday asking tough questions. FOX 7 was the only TV station there.

"Who advised you on this legal reading and interpretation," said Kandace Vallejo, Youth Rise Texas. 

"I spoke with the county attorney's office, I spoke with the ACLU and I spoke with a number of attorneys that helped me write my policy with advice on what I should do," said Sheriff Hernandez.

The law requires law enforcement to comply with federal immigration officials' requests to detain undocumented immigrants in local jails for possible deportation.

The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came nearly a month after a lower judge blocked most of the law signed in May by Governor Greg Abbott. The ruling has been confusing to many.

"To our best understanding of the ruling from the 5th Circuit, there actually is a bit of wiggle room of how that ruling is interpreted. It seems that Sheriff Hernandez also feels the same, although she's deciding to take a more conservative approach in this moment," said Vallejo.

It's still uncertain whether the full law will take into effect. Oral arguments are set for November. Sheriff Hernandez hopes the court will be against SB 4.

"I'm not out of this fight, my heart is still in it," said Sheriff Hernandez.

Those sentiments were echoed by Mayor Steve Adler and Austin Police Department Interim Chief Brian Manley.

"We're doing everything that we can do, and need to do, as a city to try and help people stay out of jail," said Mayor Steve Adler, City of Austin.

"If you see an officer wearing this uniform and this badge, we're concerned about your safety not your status," said Interim Chief Brian Manley, Austin Police Department.

APD policy states they will not detain someone because they know or suspect they are undocumented in this country, officers will not detain an individual solely to determine their status and, they will not detain anyone longer than necessary to determine their status when they have legally stopped someone. Officers are allowed to ask someone their status, with a few exceptions. If an officer does choose to ask, they must write a report with reasons why they asked. Sheriff Hernandez says their policy is similar.

"We want our communities safe and we want the immigrant communities to trust us," said Sheriff Hernandez.
 

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