Sheriff to reverse sanctuary policy


Gov. Greg Abbott has stepped up the pressure on Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez to participate in immigration enforcement, warning that she could lose state funding if she refuses.

In a Jan. 23 letter, Abbott urged the sheriff to reverse her policy directive “forbidding Travis County Sheriff’s Office employees from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests.”

Failure to reverse her directive would put in jeopardy millions of dollars in funding from the governor’s office to Travis County, Abbott warned. Abbott mentioned that last year, he conditioned all Criminal Justice Grant funds from his office to counties on their enforcement of federal immigration law. Furthermore, Abbott said, he is committed to signing legislation that bans sanctuary cities throughout the state of Texas.

Sheriff Hernandez posted a news release in reaction to the governor’s letter, saying: “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. I am following all state and federal laws, and upholding constitutional rights to due process for all in our criminal justice system. Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation. I trust the court system and our judges to assess the risks and set appropriate bonds and conditions for all who are incarcerated. The voters, who elected state leaders and me, expect and deserve a collaborative effort to come up with solutions to this very complex issue. That is precisely what I’m committed to.”

Jobless rate stays same

The Texas Workforce Commission on Jan. 20 reported that Texas added an estimated 210,200 seasonally adjusted jobs since December 2015, with the addition of 800 nonfarm jobs in December.

Furthermore, according to the agency, the state has added jobs in 20 of the past 21 months. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate maintained a 4.6-percent rate in December, the same rate as in November, according to information posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Education and Health Services industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month, with 7,300 jobs added. Leisure and hospitality employment grew by 3,900 jobs in December and manufacturing employment expanded by 1,400 jobs.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or