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Government/Politics

Abbott's Plan To Cut State Grants To Sanctuary County Sheriffs Could Hurt Some Veterans

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Ryan Poppe
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Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants a law that will allow him to remove local officials who won’t hold criminally- charged immigrants for possible deportation.   Some state lawmakers question whether the governor could legally do that. 

It was Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez who prompted Gov. Abbott’s threat.  Hernandez says after immigrants have served their time for criminal convictions, she won’t hold them for federal agents who may want to deport them.  On Fox television, Gov. Abbott said sheriff’s following that policy could lose grant money distributed by the state.. 

“For one these sheriffs offices receive grants from the governor’s office in the State of Texas, so we are cutting off those grants," Abbott told Fox reporters.

The governor is also encouraging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would remove local elected officials like Hernandez from office.

“We are working on laws that will one ban sanctuary cities, remove from office any officeholder who promotes sanctuary cities, impose criminal penalties as well as financial penalties," Abbott says.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says Abbott has the right to withhold the money.

“The main thing is funding, they can restrict or end funding the state is providing cities now if they don’t follow state and federal law," Paxton explains.

But Sen. Jose Menendez, a San Antonio Democrat, isn’t sure the governor can just do that.  And Menendez says pulling state grant funding from sheriffs, will ultimately hurt some veterans.

“You know the sad thing is the money doesn’t even go towards immigration enforcement, it goes to veteran’s treatment courts and mental health facilities," Menendez says.

Menendez says the money Abbott is talking about isn’t necessarily targeted for the sheriff office.  It’s money that is allocated to the county.