A relationship between Travis County and the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) which requires unconstitutional detainers and an unwarranted delay of an individual’s release is inconsistent with many shared Travis County values; foremost among those are respect, tolerance, compassion, trust, and an appreciation of diversity.
As a Travis County law enforcement elected official and leader, I believe that to best protect the welfare and safety of our community, Travis County should not enforce any ICE policy which is unconstitutional and which targets our neighbors, separates families, leaves children behind and pushes people into the shadows making them afraid or unwilling to report or cooperate in the prosecution of crimes because of a fear of an ICE program. Travis County must redefine its relationship with immigrant communities, civil rights organizations and ICE.
Secure Communities has been ruled to be unconstitutional by several federal courts. Numerous federal courts and legal experts have stated that detainers arising from the Secure Communities program violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution. As such, Travis County should not honor requests from ICE to detain individuals for immigration reasons without warrant and without probable cause. Although Secure Communities has been discontinued, there remains many unanswered questions and serious concerns about the replacement program, Priority Enforcement Program. We must draw a line and state clearly that Travis County will not be complicit in a broken federal immigration system.
Public safety is one of my main concerns but it has to be pursued in a fair and judicious manner. It is well past time for Travis County to change. As a career law enforcement professional, elected official, and long-time Austin resident, I call on Travis County to change their policy concerning our relationship with ICE and uphold our values. I am open to hearing ideas from interested parties because Travis County must build bridges between law enforcement and members of the community in a positive way. It is time we focus our county resources on protecting our community from violent offenders and not on tearing families apart.