Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is emerging as one the real stalwarts in the fight against the evisceration of immigration enforcement at the federal and local level.
Late last year, while he was still Texas Attorney General, Abbott spearheaded the lawsuit (together with 25 other states) against President Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive authority to grant de facto amnesty to nearly 5 million illegal aliens. While Congress failed to act to block the president’s actions by cutting off funding, an injunction issued by a federal judge as a result of the states’ lawsuit has thus far prevented the administration from implementing the president’s policy directives.
Last week the Senate refused to take action against sanctuary jurisdictions around the country that impede what little federal immigration enforcement is taking place and endanger public safety. Once again, Abbott, this time as governor, is stepping into the breach.
In a letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, whose department recently adopted policies that dramatically limit the circumstances under which it will comply with ICE detainer requests, Abbott made it clear that the state will act to force local compliance with federal immigration enforcement. “Policies like yours compel Texas to take action to protect Texans’ safety and to reduce the costs that those policies may impose on Texas taxpayers,” Abbott wrote.
The governor warned that policies like Sheriff Valdez’s could lead to state legislation to ban sanctuary jurisdictions and to make it illegal for law enforcement departments to refuse ICE detainer requests. Abbott also threatened to hit local governments in the pocketbook. “Texas must also evaluate the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for our health and education systems. Further, the State should consider 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.”
In sharp contrast to recent actions by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors, Gov. Abbott explicitly cited the murder of Kate Steinle as an example of how sanctuary policies endanger public safety. Rather than express any contrition for sanctuary policies that put Ms. Steinle’s killer back on the streets, the San Francisco supervisors unanimously urged Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to continue to refusing most ICE detainer requests.
In celebrating the board’s unanimous decision to rub salt into the fresh wounds of the Steinle family, Supervisor Malia Cohen deflected blame away from San Francisco’s policies. Cohen declared that San Francisco “cannot allow hateful conservative news stations to dictate how we respond to incidents in our city. I’m not afraid of Fox News, and they don’t influence how I make my policy decisions.”
Nor, apparently, will she allow commonsense to dictate how the city acts. Thankfully, Gov. Abbott seems prepared to allow common sense and public interest to influence policy decisions in his state.