A look at how many Travis County inmates are on ICE detainers

Travis County Correctional Facility (Courtesy: TCSO)
An example of a slider door at Travis County Correctional Facility (TCSO Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The day the Travis County sheriff changed her immigration detainer policy, Gov. Greg Abbott crossed out $1.5 million in future grants. Now, state lawmakers will continue the process to pass a bill forcing sheriff departments to comply every time the federal government asks to hand over someone who came to Texas illegally.

Tuesday, Gov. Abbott named a statewide ban on “sanctuary cities” an emergency item in the legislature, forcing lawmakers to tackle that issue first before going on to other issues. He wants the power to block a wider array of funds and remove locally elected officials who don’t fall in line with enforcing federal immigration efforts.

Thursday morning, senators will lay out their plan of the bill and take public testimony. Wednesday Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, the author of SB 4 wanted to clarify his view.

“You don’t get to be chief judge and executioner on a local level based on your whims or political ideologues of the day,” Sen. Perry told reporters Wednesday morning. Sheriff Sally Hernandez is now the test case.

Out of 71 undocumented people who went to the Travis County Jail so far in January, by and large the most common charge was driving while intoxicated, with 27 charges. The next common charges were 12 for drug possession and 12 for assault on a family member.

One hundred and ninety-one people with ICE detainers held on them Tuesday, do not currently have them. They are now treated the same as citizens and can bond out of jail.

ICE detainers will remain in place for 30 inmates who meet Sheriff Hernandez’s new policy, people accused of committing extremely violent crimes like murder and aggravated sexual assault.

An accused murderer and a person accused of sexual assault also were booked into jail in January and held on an ICE detainer.

Senate Republicans want no wiggle room and SB 4 requires all jails to notify and hand over all undocumented immigrants who committed a crime. “We cannot allow the undermining of our civil and criminal justice system by individuals who chose to be the ruler and knower of all,” said Sen. Perry.

But activist Alejandro Caceres tells me that’s what he has a problem with. He doesn’t want the state telling the cities and counties what to do with people police arrest.

“If we can’t elect our own officials with our views and our policies that we want forward. Why do we even have these local elections?” said Caceres.

The next event in this story will happen in the Texas Senate, where more than 500 people are expected to show up and voice their opinion in a public hearing.

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