AUSTIN – The Austin American-Statesman reported late yesterday that Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez released from Travis County jail a known Mexican gang member who had been deported four times already and has been convicted of stealing a firearm in Hopkins County in 2008. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Travis County denied their June 16 detainer request and did not notify ICE before the release of Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero, a member of the “Sureños 13” gang.
Mendoza-Caballero was arrested for “assault causing bodily injury,” a charge which Sheriff Hernandez believes does not merit honoring an ICE detainer.
“‘Sanctuary Sally’ recklessly went forward with her Sanctuary policy in January, against the recommendation of her predecessor, Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Texas Legislature,” said Matt Mackowiak, Travis County GOP chairman. “Now she is purposefully endangering the public by releasing known gang members with criminal convictions and multiple previous deportations back into our county. Does an innocent Travis County resident have to die for Sheriff Hernandez to wake up?”
On June 21, Chairman Mackowiak sent a public information request to the office of the Travis County Sheriff (TCSO), seeking access to arrest records and ICE detainers requests, and asking five questions:
Why were the following cases not included [as exceptions to your Sanctuary policy]: Drug trafficking, crimes against police officers, vehicular homicide, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, arson, causing serious bodily injury to child, senior citizen or disabled person, trafficking of persons under the age of fourteen, intoxication manslaughter, and manslaughter?
Precisely how many individuals who would have been subject to ICE detainers when they were arrested have you chosen to release from February 1, 2017 through June 15, 2017? What were they charged with?
Do you have a record of whether any of these released individuals committed additional crimes in Travis County once they were released, and if so, what crimes were committed?
Would you release a list of all criminal alien arrests and post it to your TCSO website, as your predecessor Sheriff Greg Hamilton did? If not, why not?
Your decision to ignore ICE detainers has resulted in millions of dollars cut from the TCSO budget. Specifically, how has public safety been affected by your decision to ignore the law?
After first saying they did not receive the request, which was submitted both by fax and by mail, TCSO returned an incomplete response that was virtually useless.
“Sheriff Hernandez is playing a dangerous game, when she should be upholding her oath and doing her duty to protect the public,” said Mackowiak. “How many gang members has she released since January? How many more will she release?”
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