by PATRICK SVITEK
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he and state lawmakers will pursue legislation that would “remove from office any officeholder who promotes sanctuary cities,” raising a new consequence as Republicans crack down on local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Abbott is threatening to cut off state funding to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez after she announced Friday she would reduce her department’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities when they request an inmate be flagged for possible deportation. If she continues with the policy, Abbott suggested a more serious punishment.
“We will remove her from office,” Abbott said in an interview on Fox News.
It was not immediately clear how legislation would remove Hernandez from office. She won her election last year. Sanctuary cities opponents view such officials’ immigration policies as a violation of their oaths of office.
The Fox News interview appears to be the first time Abbott has suggested officials like Hernandez could lose their jobs under sanctuary cities legislation. Abbott is expected to prioritize the legislation in his State of the State address on Tuesday.
Hernandez’s office did not have an immediate comment on Abbott’s remarks. The governor’s comments, however, quickly drew ire from other Democrats, with the state party saying in a statement that Abbott was “launching a new assault on the will of Texans.”
“I don’t know how the governor would suggest to do that,” state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, said at a news conference that was called to push back on sanctuary cities legislation. “Typically people are elected by the voters. Democracy, in fact, works.”
“And unless the governor wants to be king and remove people from office unilaterally, then I think the people of Travis County will have an opportunity to speak on the sheriff, the governor and all other elected officials when they stand for re-election,” Anchia added.
reports for the Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.