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Texas Gov. Wants Dallas to Revoke 'Sanctuary City' Policy

by Kelly Carrion /
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: File photo of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detaining an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.John Moore / Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez on Monday saying she must reverse the policy changes she made regarding immigration holds by local law enforcement. On Sept. 1, Valdez said she would stop honoring Immigration and Custom Enforcement requests for certain minor offense detainees on a case-by-case basis.

“I am demanding that the Dallas County sheriff abandon her decision to not implement the U.S. immigration and custom standards,” Abbott said in and interview on The Sean Hannity Show. “I laid down a marker today in the state of Texas that sanctuary city policies are no longer going to be tolerated. Instead, the laws of this land are going to be enforced.”

Cities that ban police from asking about a person's immigration status are often referred to as 'Sanctuary Cities."

According to the Dallas Morning News, immigration holds or detainers are done for an additional 48 hours once the person is past his or her release date, then the person is then taken by ICE, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

In the letter, Abbott included the following actions the state could take to combat policy changes such as the one made by Valdez.

  • Passing laws that prohibit any policy or action that promotes sanctuary to people in this state illegally.
  • Enacting laws that make it illegal for a sheriff's department to not honor a federal immigration detainer request.
  • Evaluating the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for Texas' health and education systems.
  • Amending the Tort Claims Act to ensure counties are fully financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county's sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.

The governor's spokesperson John Wittman said that Dallas was the only county in the state receiving the letter.

The Texas Democrats released a statement in which they tell the Republican governor "¡Ya basta! Enough."

“Law enforcement officials that are working to improve the relationship between their officers and the communities they protect should be lauded, not attacked for political gain," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.

Another organization also released the a statement about their outrage to the Governors actions.

"Gov. Greg Abbott is at it again, showing a jaw-dropping level of hypocrisy in trying to reverse the actions taken by the duly elected sheriff of Dallas County,” said Brianna Brown, director of Texas Organizing Project’s (TOP) Dallas County office, a community and voting rights group.

"Sheriff Lupe Valdez strengthened the trust and safety of her community when she decided to stop honoring ICE holds for people accused of minor offenses," said Brown, who added that "research that shows that cooperation with immigration enforcement erodes the trust of the community" and that Valdez made the best choice for her county.

Public Information Officer, Raul Reyna, told NBC News Latino that a lawsuit was filed Oct. 26 against Sheriff Valdez and Dallas County regarding the immigration detainers. And, upon advice of her legal counsel, Sheriff Valdez, will not be commenting on the matter at this time.

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