As immigration concerns rise city leaders vow to protect Austinites’ civil rights

Immigration protesters at Austin Police Headquarters (KXAN Photo)
Immigration protesters at Austin Police Headquarters (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Since election day there has been mounting concerns over immigration. Across the country, civil rights groups are reporting an increase in racially-motivated attacks, especially on Latinos and Muslims.

Here in Austin, city leaders say there is an increasing number of phone calls from people afraid of hate crimes and possible mass deportations. On Thursday, the city if planning to put those fears to rest.

Hundreds gathered at City Hall for a pro-immigration conference that turned into rally. (KXAN/Frank Martinez)
Hundreds gathered at City Hall for a pro-immigration conference that turned into rally. (KXAN/Frank Martinez)

City and school leaders in Austin/Travis County say their phones are ringing off the hook as they are flooded with messages. Most of them are from Austinites who are afraid of what strict immigration policies would do to their communities.

The city says it is time to address these concerns. Several Austin council members will team up with Austin ISD school board members and Travis County leaders at City Hall. They want to send a message that they are committed to keeping Austin families safe by making sure that people’s civil rights are not violated.

This comes just a couple of days after state lawmakers moved forward with a bill to get rid of sanctuary cities in Texas. These cities are jurisdictions that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.

This issue is the platform that Travis County Sheriff-Elect Sally Hernandez ran and won on. She has repeatedly said that she will not detain non-criminal inmates for immigration agents looking to deport them. If she follows through with that promise, Austin would be the state’s first real sanctuary city.

In a statement to KXAN Hernandez said:

“Travis County voters made it overwhelmingly clear that they want a progressive policy towards [immigration] that focuses on keeping families together and our community safer. Our values have not changed since Election Day. Travis County still has the same principles and values which state that everyone regardless of who they are, who they love, or where they come from should be valued, respected, and treated fairly by law enforcement.”

The Department of Public Safety and lawmakers are already preparing to ask for more than a billion dollars to continue fighting drug crimes on the border. Border Agents will focus on the influx of new crossings. The question is what exactly are your tax-dollars paying for. In this multi-part- ongoing investigation we delve into the border splurge.

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