Sheriff may include additional charges in ICE detainer policy

Sally Hernandez at her swearing in ceremony as Travis County sheriff, Jan. 4, 2017 (KXAN Photo)
Sally Hernandez at her swearing in ceremony as Travis County sheriff, Jan. 4, 2017 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis County Sheriff’s Office says they will likely include additional criminal charges, specifically involving children and the elderly, in their Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer policy.

Sheriff Sally Hernandez met with District Attorney Margaret Moore on Wednesday to make sure the two offices are sharing information “in a timely and comprehensive manner.”

The resulting collaboration will give Sheriff Hernandez the chance to more “liberally” use item 9 in her ICE policy — “the right to exercise discretion in any individual case to ensure that justice is served” — the sheriff’s office said.

The more liberal reading of the policy will likely lead to the acceptance of ICE detainers on people charged with felony crimes against children and the elderly, as well as aggravated offenses, the department continued.

The sheriff’s office says they are working with the district attorney within the parameters of the current policy and are not changing it. The policy currently accepts ICE detainers on undocumented immigrants charged with capital murder, first degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and human smuggling.

Earlier this week, the detainer for a man accused of molesting a child was initially declined, because he was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a young child, which is not one of the four charges in the sheriff’s policy.

After the sheriff’s office reviewed the suspect’s paperwork, they determined there was an aggravated sexual abuse element to the case. “Actions were immediately taken to reinstate the requested ICE detainer to keep Hugo Gallardo-Gonzalez in custody,” said Travis County Jail administrator Major Wes Priddy in a statement.

Priddy said at the time they intended to review the matter and were considering policy modifications.

After the story of the initially declined ICE detainer was reported, Gov. Greg Abbott was quick to call for the end to the policy. “Travis Co. Sheriff now sees how dangerous her Sanctuary policy was & will alter it. Not good enough. Must end it,” the governor tweeted on Wednesday.

Abbott cut $1.5 million in grants to Travis County on Feb. 1 in response to the sheriff’s ICE policy. The governor previously told Fox News that Hernandez would lose her job if she doesn’t reverse plans to stop honoring all federal immigration detainers in her jail.

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