You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Travis County sheriff’s candidates spar over stances on ICE detainers


Of the six candidates seeking to succeed Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, only one said he wants to keep the sheriff’s most controversial policy.

Private investigator Joe Martinez, the lone Republican in the field, told a forum Saturday evening that he would continue Travis County’s participation in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that allows federal officials to monitor who is booked into the jail and detain inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants.

“We’re a country of laws, and wherever anybody comes from, they also live with law,” Martinez told the audience at the forum at the First Unitarian Universalist Church. “If we travel as a foreigner into another country, we have to obey and abide by their laws. As far as removing ICE, I would strongly recommend that we not remove ICE. I would strongly recommend that we maintain the current policy with the current Sheriff Hamilton — he’s done a great job.”

The policy has been criticized by groups such as Grassroots Leadership and the ICE Out of Austin Coalition, the hosts of Saturday’s forum, which contend the use of ICE detainers breaks up families and leads to deportation of people arrested for minor offenses.

But Martinez said if people obey the law, no one will bother them. The crowd, which included members of the immigrant community who had been incarcerated, booed Martinez after this answer.

“As a sheriff, you don’t have the option to select what law you’re going to enforce,” Martinez said. “You enforce all laws of the state and the United States.”

Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford, one of four Democrats competing in the March 1 primary, disagreed with Martinez and said Travis County does not have to participate in the ICE program.

“When somebody’s brought into the Travis County Correctional Facility, they answer for their state charges, and they should be released when they’re done,” Radford said. “The issue with ICE is that it needs to end and it needs to end immediately.”

Having Travis County deputies acting as immigration agents deteriorates trust with the community, Radford added.

The other Democratic candidates and Green Party candidate Debbie Russell also said they opposed the ICE program.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Don X. Rios noted that the first goal of his campaign was to end ICE detainers. He suggested his opposition was stronger than that of Radford or Constable Sally Hernandez, two of his opponents in the Democratic primary.

“It’s up to you to really look and see who you want as the next Travis County sheriff,” Rios said.

Former Austin police Lt. John Sisson, another Democratic candidate, said he’s been advocating to end Travis County’s participation in the ICE program since 2007, when he ran against Hamilton. He said a recent interview with the Austin American-Statesman’s editorial board showed some differences among the Democratic contenders.

“I was sitting with the editorial board, and the question was, ‘Will you cooperate with immigration officials?’ Todd (Radford) and Sally (Hernandez) said yes, they would, except for minor violations; Don (Rios) and I said no,” Sisson said. “You cannot pick and choose who goes and who stays.”

Hernandez countered that she’s been against the ICE program since 1997. She said she was insulted that other candidates said she wasn’t against the program.

“I believe that we have to renew our relationship with the immigrant community, and that means ending and getting ICE out of the jail,” she said.

Russell, a Del Valle school board trustee running for sheriff as a Green Party candidate, said the county’s participation in the ICE program is voluntary and should have ended “yesterday.” She said people shouldn’t be thrown out of the country for a speeding violation or minor offense.

All candidates expressed a desire to implement more face-to-face visits for jail inmates and reform mental health programs and services offered. All candidates also said they backed developing a peer support program for inmates.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Parents, special needs children left floundering after Medicaid cuts
Parents, special needs children left floundering after Medicaid cuts

Stacey English has modest desires for her 7-year-old daughter Addison: Be able to eat without gagging and move both her arms. But since Addison’s occupational therapist went out of business this winter, the child with a rare genetic disorder has regressed in her fight to do even that much. “I don’t know where to go from here,&rdquo...
Looking for a two-bedroom apartment here? You need to make $23 an hour
Looking for a two-bedroom apartment here? You need to make $23 an hour

Renters must earn at least $22.98 an hour — more than three times the minimum wage — to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in the Austin area, a recent report reveals. The report, released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, studied the wages needed to afford rental housing throughout the country and uncovered broad...
Hutto files 2 lawsuits after refusing to release city manager records
Hutto files 2 lawsuits after refusing to release city manager records

The city of Hutto is suing the Texas attorney general over the state’s ruling that the town has to release some documents concerning its city manager, Odis Jones. The records were requested by or related to one of three fired female city employees who made discrimination allegations against Jones in March, said the city’s attorney, Michael...
Same tolls, new operators for southern stretch of Texas 130 tollway
Same tolls, new operators for southern stretch of Texas 130 tollway

After more than a year in bankruptcy, the company operating the southern end of the Texas 130 tollway emerged Wednesday under new ownership and new management, shedding about $1.4 billion in debt in what its leadership said makes the nation’s fastest highway more stable. Toll rates won’t be affected. The 41-mile stretch of Texas 130 from...
STONEWALL RALLY: Over 200 celebrate, stand up for LGBT rights in front of Capitol
STONEWALL RALLY: Over 200 celebrate, stand up for LGBT rights in front of Capitol

10 p.m. update: More than 200 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to speak up for LGBT rights during the annual Stonewall Celebration and Rally on Wednesday evening.  The event had a series of guest speakers including Miss Austin Pride Nadine Hughes and event organizer Paul Huddleston, who called on the LGBT community and its...
More Stories