AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott escalated a standoff with Austin's sheriff over so-called sanctuary cities on Wednesday, vowing to oust the elected Democrat from office even though he doesn't have the power to do so.
His pledge came hours before President Donald Trump signed an executive action to also crackdown on immigrant-protecting sanctuary policies by cutting federal dollars.
Abbott, a Republican, already has plans to cut off some state grants by Feb. 1 because Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez says her jails in Texas' most liberal city will no longer honor all detainer requests from federal immigration authorities.
"If she doesn't, we will remove her from office," Abbott said during an interview on "Fox and Friends."
Abbott said the Texas Legislature is working on anti-sanctuary bills that would remove officeholders and impose criminal and financial penalties. His threat goes beyond one prominent anti-sanctuary bill that proposes blocking taxpayer money as punishment.
A spokeswoman for Hernandez didn't immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said "unless the governor wants to be king and remove people from office unilaterally," it's up to voters to decide.
Trump plans to curb funding for cities that don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, which could cost individual jurisdictions millions of dollars. But the administration may face legal challenges, given that some federal courts have found that local jurisdictions cannot hold immigrants beyond their jail term or deny them bond based only a request from immigration authorities.
Hernandez has said she will still honor detainer requests for murder, aggravated sexual assault and human trafficking charges. But she has said complying with all requests ties up her deputies and sows distrust between officers and county residents, who may fear deportation.
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