Austin police arrested two people after violent outbursts at immigration protests over the weekend. Federal officials say another 51 undocumented immigrants were taken into custody in central Texas as part of a larger, nationwide operation. The actions come as tension tightens over immigration reform.
When U.T. students arrived on campus Monday some were met with a surprising message. Posted on several doors were flyers that stated it was a civic duty to report illegal aliens.
"That’s meaningless. It’s just trying to incite fear and create division,” said U.T. student Nicole Ozuna.
In response to the flyers, U.T.’s president tweeted, “when some try to divide us, Longhorns stand together. Diversity and inclusion are among our top priorities."
That unifying message, however, comes after violent outbursts that took place during weekend immigration protests in Austin. One person was arrested for throwing lit fireworks into a patrol car and setting it on fire. Another protester was arrested for aggravated assault.
Austin City Councilman Greg Casar posted on his Facebook page that he joined the Sunday protest on Rundberg. He urged those who continue to gather to "work to maintain a peaceful environment and grow solidarity in these tense times." Monday a group of students from Lanier High School returned to the intersection of Rundberg and Lamar where things got out of control Sunday. The students seemed to follow the councilman's advice. But Casar, in his post, also tried to shift blame for Sunday’s incident by claiming; "what ICE officials have done in our community has not been peaceful."
Advocates for undocumented immigrants, like Casar, are convinced Austin is being targeted for a deportation crackdown because of sanctuary city type policies and programs. Federal officials, Monday, acknowledged an immigration operation was launched last week from their offices in LA, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and San Antonio. The operation in central Texas, as of this week, has resulted in 51 arrests. Of those taken into custody, 23 had criminal convictions including one who pleaded guilty to child sex assault. Officials with ICE say the operations are “routine” and part of existing enforcement actions. A spokesperson also stated that reports of checkpoints as well as sweeps were false, dangerous and irresponsible.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, during an interview with FOX & Friends, indicated raids in Austin were the result of a new sanctuary city policy by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez.
"If Sally doesn't do her job, someone else is going to do it for her,” said the Lt. Governor.
Patrick acknowledged he doesn’t know when the current ICE operation was authorized or which administration did it. He promises legislation to outlaw sanctuary policies will continue to move through the Texas legislature.