Federal agents privately alerted two magistrate judges in late January that they would be targeting the Austin area for a major operation and that the sting was retribution for a new policy by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez that dramatically limited her cooperation with them, according to one of the judges.
The revelation — made Monday in open court by U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin — conflicts with what ICE officials told local leaders after the sweep, when ICE characterized the operation as routine and said the Austin area was not being targeted. It also provides evidence after weeks of speculation that Hernandez’s policy triggered ICE’s ire.
“We had a briefing … that we could expect a big operation, agents coming in from out of town, that it was going to be a specific operation, and at least it was related to us in that meeting that it was the result of the sheriff’s new policy that this was going to happen,” Austin said.
“My understanding, what was told to us, is that one of the reasons that happened was because the meetings that had occurred between the (ICE) field office director and the sheriff didn’t go very well,” he said.