Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez received a rough start to her Monday morning after being served with a letter from Texas Governor Greg Abbott strongly encouraging her to honor federal immigration detainers. The letter was the result of Valdez’s recent policy change in which would allow immigrants to be released before federal immigration officials could reply on whether the detainee should be transferred to agents of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. Her goal is to clear out the jails with a revolving door action rather than allow ICE the necessary 48-hours to check on an immigrant’s background.
“Your decision to not fully honor ICE’s requests to detain criminal immigrants poses a serious danger to Texans,” wrote Abbot. “These detainers provide ICE with the critical notice and time it needs to take incarcerated immigrants into federal custody.”
The Democratic sheriff had no comment to media after receipt of the letter on Monday from the Republican governor. Her policy change became effective on Sept. 1 and was allegedly performed on a case-by-case basis. More troubling is that the policy change is not written down as reported by The Dallas Morning News; this leads the policy to be subject to interpretation by whatever officers are handling the review process. With no guidelines in place, it leads to a very lax environment with little accountability for following protocol.
Abbott was the long-serving Attorney General and takes legal issues quite seriously. With Monday’s letter, he is making it be known that the concept of “sanctuary city policies” will not be tolerated in Texas. The governor went on to write:
‘Sanctuary City’ policies like those promoted by your recent decision to implement your own case-by-case immigrant detention plan will no longer be tolerated in Texas. Your decision to not fully honor U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) requests to detain criminal immigrants poses a serious danger to Texans. These detainers provide ICE with the critical notice and time it needs to take incarcerated immigrants into federal custody. Your refusal to fully participate in a federal law enforcement program intended to keep dangerous criminals off the streets leaves the State no choice to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our fellow Texans.”
During the fiscal year of 2015, there were 2,048 hold requests; there were no statistics available on how many of those requests were rejected.