Adler blasts ICE director’s threat to jail local elected officials

3:58 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 Local
Mayor Steve Adler talks about the second draft of CodeNEXT at a news conference at City Hall on Friday September 15, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Wednesday blasted threats made by the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Fox News to jail local officials who enforce so-called sanctuary policies.

“Threatening to jail political opponents, especially for laws they aren’t breaking, is not the America I grew up in,” Adler said in a statement. “Austin is the safest big city in Texas, and we follow the law. I will oppose anti-immigrant policies, regardless of the personal consequences, because spreading fear and making threats makes us all less safe.”

Thomas Homan, the acting director ICE, told Neil Cavuto on Tuesday that he believes “sanctuary cities are violating federal law,” and he called on the Department of Justice to begin researching how it might jail politicians who enact policies that prevent full cooperation with ICE requests.

“We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on, we’ve got to take them to court and we have to start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” Homan said.

Homan made the comments in response to a new law in California that limits local law enforcement’s ability to detain people suspected of illegal immigration on ICE’s behalf.

Despite Travis County becoming a lightning rod last year for criticism of policies that would have limited cooperation with ICE agents’ requests to hold people in jail accused of living in the U.S. illegally, Homan’s threats have little applicability in Travis County while Senate Bill 4 remains on the books.

SB 4 undid a jail policy put in place by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez in early 2017. While the law is facing challenges from most of Texas’ largest cities in federal court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has let the implementation of the law move forward.

Adler was not the only Texas mayor to criticize Homan’s comments. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the Dallas Morning News that Homan’s threats were “total hogwash.”