Travis County sheriff’s race focuses on ‘sanctuary city’ status

Joe Martinez, left, Republican candidate for Travis County sheriff, and Sally Hernandez, Democratic candidate at right. (Campaign Photos)
Joe Martinez, left, Republican candidate for Travis County sheriff, and Sally Hernandez, Democratic candidate at right. (Campaign Photos)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the candidates for Travis County sheriff says, if elected, she’ll stop cooperating with federal immigration officials at the county jail.

Democrat Sally Hernandez wants to keep U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, out of the jail. In a statement to KXAN, she says, “I will change the current ICE policy to reflect our county’s progressive values and will prioritize the safety of all.”

Her opponent, Republican Joe Martinez, says if elected sheriff, he’ll continue to cooperate with ICE, by holding and handing over people who come to this country illegally.

Joe Martinez, left, Republican candidate for Travis County sheriff, and Sally Hernandez, Democratic candidate at right. (Campaign Photos)
Joe Martinez, left, Republican candidate for Travis County sheriff, and Sally Hernandez, Democratic candidate at right. (Campaign Photos)

“Human beings show compassion and we will show compassion, but when you come into the jail, my biggest concern is I want to make sure you’re not a violent criminal from somewhere else in the world,” explains Martinez.

Hilda Ramirez and her 10-year-old son Ivan used Austin as a sanctuary from deportation. They lived at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for eight months, after escaping violence in Guatemala. “I lived with a lot of fear when I found out I was going to be deported,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez and her son are now free, after ICE agents let them stay. “I’m very happy everyone helped us and we were able to get out,” said Ivan.

Some people believe Travis County could become a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants if law enforcement doesn’t cooperate with ICE.

Hernandez got 51 percent of the vote in the March primary, beating three other democratic candidates. Martinez had no Republican challengers in the primary.

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