This is going to be interesting. This week the Department of Homeland Security released a list of names of jails where local law enforcement was refusing to cooperate with ICE requests to hold illegal immigrants who had been arrested for potential deportation. It’s far from a comprehensive list but it does cover more than 200 incidents reported in the last couple of months. There seems to be some strategy behind who was included, particularly when you consider that a majority of the incidents took place in Texas. (Associated Press)
The Trump administration is naming some names in its efforts to shame local jails that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities. It’s putting the spotlight on Travis County, Texas, home of liberal Austin.
The administration released a list of 206 cases of immigrants released from custody despite requests from federal agents to keep them locked up. Roughly two-thirds were from Travis County.
The 206 figure is somewhat murky. It doesn’t represent all the cases in which immigration authorities sought custody of people facing criminal charges, with major cities like New York and Los Angeles underrepresented on the list.
It might seem a little counterintuitive that Texas is being so promptly featured here, particularly given the reputation that the Lone Star State has for strict law enforcement and conservative policies. But we’re not talking about the entire state. Pretty much all of this activity took place in Austin, widely considered to be the epicenter of liberalism in that otherwise red state. (We really should get a movement started to brand Austin as the “Portland of the South.”)
I’m just reading the tea leaves here, but this might make a lot of sense. Clearly the White House is hoping to bring these renegade cities under control by “naming and shaming” them in the media. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, a lot of the cities in question are in very blue states where they have either the full support of the state government or at least very little risk of coming under pressure from them. Not so in Texas. The governor there has already issued marching orders regarding cooperation with ICE and has, in a couple of cases, pulled block grant funding from law enforcement entities who are not in compliance.
Chalking up a victory in Austin might go some ways toward letting other cities such as San Francisco and Philadelphia know that this isn’t just political rhetoric and the consequences can be very real. Still, I find it hard to believe that this will be enough. Democrats in these liberal bastions are currently burnishing their progressive credentials by being willing to very publicly “stand up to Trump.” I’m guessing that what they mostly fear is a loss of cold hard cash, so cutting off funding may wind up being the only method which succeeds.
That carries with it another danger, however. It’s impossible to surgically remove funding which would only apply to the detention of illegal immigrants slated for deportation. When funding is cut, the entire law enforcement effort in that community suffers. In the end, you’re not going to carry the day by attempting to change the mind of one sheriff or one mayor if the local government is controlled by liberals. While it may be sad to have to take this approach, the pressure in such places will probably have to come from the citizens who express outrage over diminished law enforcement presence and rising crime rates.