Gov. Greg Abbott Hunting for More Funds to Cut From Travis County in Sanctuary City Battle

AUSTIN -- Gov. Greg Abbott is on the hunt for more funding to cut from Travis County after the sheriff there refused to reverse a policy the governor says makes the Austin area a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.Steven Albright, Abbott's budget director, on Thursday sent a letter to the heads of all state agencies asking them to identify all funds, including federal dollars, that had been allotted to Travis County in the 2016 fiscal year.The letter comes amid an ongoing skirmish between Abbott and Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. Last Friday, Hernandez announced that she would no longer turn certain undocumented immigrants in her jail over to federal immigration officials. The decision incensed Abbott, who has made banning sanctuary cities a priority for the current legislative session.Abbott spokesman John Wittman declined to comment on the letter Thursday evening.Abbott sent Hernandez a letter on Monday threatening to take away $1.8 million in law enforcement grants from her department if the sheriff did not reverse her "reckless" policy by Feb. 1. On Wednesday, he said during a FOX News interview that Hernandez ought to be ousted from her elected office, and he called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would punish local officials who promote sanctuary policies.Abbott and others who decry so-called sanctuary policies say they worry the practice could leave criminals who are in the country illegally free to roam the streets and victimize others.While GOP state senators sent Hernandez a letter also lambasting her decision, Democrats from Austin came to her defense with a blistering letter to Abbott, calling his threats an overreach. "Threatening Sheriff Hernandez with removal from office and withholding much-needed funding from the county is a vast overreach of executive authority," Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Donna Howard, Celia Israel and Gina Hinojosa wrote. On Thursday, Hernandez issued a public statement saying she would not back away from her policy on immigrants in the local jail. She said her directive does not violate any state or federal laws and makes the community safer."I respect the job of our state leaders, but I will not allow fear and misinformation to be my guiding principles as a leader sworn to protect this community," she said.The letter from Abbott's budget director seeks not only to identify state funds but also seeks out federal funds that go to the county. It's a signal that more cuts could come not only from Abbott's pen but from the executive order that President Trump signed Wednesday that would cut money to sanctuary cities.  Continue reading...

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