President Donald Trump’s not the only threat facing communities with so-called sanctuary city policies.
As officials across the country wrung their hands over the possibility of losing federal funds, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just canceled $1.5 million in block grants to the Travis County criminal justice system, including funds allocated for victims services, juvenile programs, and the drug, DWI and veterans courts.
The move came after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez refused to back down from her plans to institute a sanctuary city policy. Under the policy, which went into effect this week, deputies are not required to honor detainer requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unless the inmate is charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling.
In response, Abbott canceled the county’s criminal justice funds and promised to push for legislation that would effect the same punishment across the state.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 1, 2017
Sanctuary cities came under renewed scrutiny last year on the campaign trail, when Trump began describing them as a threat to public safety. He has since signed an executive order promising to defund any city or county with a sanctuary policy. That could affect more than 300 counties and cities that have policies limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities, imperiling millions in federal dollars.
Trump is among many who say sanctuary policies have endangered public safety by letting criminals to roam free. Supporters of the policy say it improves public safety by increasing trust of law enforcement in undocumented communities, allowing people to feel more comfortable reporting crime. A recent study by the Center for American Progress found on average 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties.
Shoshana Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @shoeshine.