Sanctuary Travis County Released 142 Criminal Aliens in Week, Says ICE

Posted March 21, 2017

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect.

Advocates for immigrants say it is unconstitutional for local police to detain someone for a civil deportation proceeding when the judge in their criminal case has ordered them released on bail. Travis County alone declined 142 of the 206 requests.

Gov. Greg Abbott has cracked down hard on Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez for enacting sanctuary city policies, which limit cooperation with immigration authorities and restrict law enforcement officers' ability to ask about a person's immigration status.

Williamson and Bastrop Counties are the only other Texas jurisdictions on the federal agency's list, with Williamson denying four detainer requests and Bastop declining three.

Some field offices had ceased issuing detainers to known uncooperative jurisdictions, according to ICE.

"This is an effort for us to be transparent with regards to how we conduct our enforcement operations and the public safety from those agencies that don't cooperate with those enforcement efforts", said a senior DHS official in a briefing call with reporters.

ICE officials will continue to compile a detainers list and release it weekly as part of a requirement in President Trump's January 25 executive order on immigration, a DHS spokesperson said in a news release.

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ICE arrested 51 people in the Austin area thought to be in the United States illegally in mid-February, and records obtained by the KVUE Defenders show 28 of them had no criminal history. Fearing his deportation force, some undocumented women are opting to stay away from domestic violence courts and law enforcement agencies sworn to protect them.

There are also concerns about due process.

In his January 25 executive order intensifying deportation efforts, President Trump said the Homeland Security secretary should compile a list of the agencies that refused to detain immigrants past the time they are supposed to be released and the crimes those immigrants are accused of, and make it public "on a weekly basis".

The suspects in those jails had convictions for domestic violence, burglary and forgery, among other crimes.

The Department of Homeland Security sent out its first "declined detainer" list, claiming it shows uncooperative cities are releasing risky criminals into the streets.

Monday's detainer report listed 10 jurisdictions that fail to comply with detainers "on a routine basis".