Crime

Group Says Sanctuary Policy Is Freeing Violent Criminals

| by Jordan Smith

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has criticized the sanctuary policy implemented by Travis County, Texas, stating that it has resulted in violent criminals being set free.

The group published a list of 204 detainer requests made to Travis County by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which the county rejected, the Washington Examiner reported.

ICE can issue a detainer to a county, requesting it hold a person who is already in custody until federal officials take them for deportation.

According to Judicial Watch, the 204 detainers rejected by the county showed that some of the people involved "were charged or convicted of 31 acts of violence, 14 thefts or burglaries, and three acts or threats of terrorism." 

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In addition, the group noted that 44 of the detainers were for "inmates originally detained by Homeland Security and temporarily transferred to Travis County (home to the state capital in Austin) for disposition of state or local charges."

Travis County has turned down a high number of detainers issued by ICE. It does so based on a policy adopted by Sheriff Sally Hernandez that states detainers will only be complied with if the individual concerned has been charged with capital murder, first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault or human trafficking.

Supporters of Hernandez's policy say immigrants in the country illegally are being held to the same standards as everybody else. Council Member Greg Casar pointed out that the measure meant immigrants who are in the U.S. without permission had the opportunity to be released on bail while awaiting trial.

"Because the facts are out there," added Commissioner Margaret Gomez, another backer of Travis County's stance, reports the Austin Monitor. "They don't cut in on our economy, they add to it. They don't come over to purposefully break the law and be criminals."

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The Travis County Commissioners Court recently voted 4-1 to join a lawsuit challenging the executive order issued by President Donald Trump, which called on cities and counties to comply with ICE or face funding cuts. The lawsuit was initiated by the city of  San Francisco and around three dozen cities have supported it.

Gerald Daugherty was the only commissioner to oppose the decision.

"I don't think any of us gave that much thought to some of the crimes that have been committed by some of those who have come here illegally," Daugherty told the Monitor. "I think that's an issue for me. And I think that's the reason that the majority of people do have a problem with that policy."

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt supported joining the suit, saying Trump's executive order violates "a basic tenet of our governmental structure." The suit contends that federal authorities should not be able to tell local jurisdictions how to deploy their law enforcement personnel.

"It's forcing local authorities to do federal work," added Eckhardt.

Sources: Austin Monitor, Washington Examiner / Photo credit: Houston DWI Defense/Flickr

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