Dallas County, Texas is the second largest county in the state of Texas with a population of 2.3 million people. It’s also the ninth most populated county in the country. Thirty-eight percent of the county’s population is Hispanic so it shouldn’t be any surprise to learn that the county sheriff is a Hispanic Democrat by the name of Lupe Valdez.
Valdez has recently stirred up a hornet’s nest by announcing that her sheriff’s department will not enforce federal immigration requests to detain illegals in her county if they do not pose a risk to the safety of the public. Basically, Valdez planned to make Dallas County, including the city of Dallas, a sanctuary safe haven for illegals.
Valdez’s statement is not setting well with Gov. Greg Abbott, a conservative Republican. Even though Abbott’s wife Cecilia is Hispanic, he is adamant about enforcing immigration laws and wants desperately to stop the flow of illegals across the Texas border.
In response to Sheriff Valdez’s announcement, Abbott sent her a letter that reads in part:
“Your refusal to fully participate in a federal law enforcement program intended to keep dangerous criminals off the streets leaves the State no choice but to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our fellow Texans. Policies like yours compel Texas to take action to protect Texans’ safety and to reduce the costs that those policies may impose on Texas taxpayers.”
“At a minimum, Texas must pass laws that prohibit any policy or action like yours that promotes sanctuary to people in this state illegally. The State must also enact laws that make it illegal for a Sheriff’s Department to not honor a federal immigration detainer request. Texas must also evaluate the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for our health and education systems. Further, the State should consider amending the Tort Claims Act to ensure counties are fully financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county’s Sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.”
It will be interesting to see if Abbott can get such measures through the state legislature where Republicans control both the Senate and House. Illegal immigration is a hot topic in Texas with emotions high on both sides of the issue.
I have mixed feelings about this particular situation.
First I want to make it perfectly clear that I am against illegal immigration. If these people want to come to our country then force them to do so legally like millions of others do. In this aspect, I support Gov. Abbott’s feelings and applaud the actions he spells out.
But that brings me to a political paradox. In the 1997 Supreme Court case JAY PRINTZ, SHERIFF/CORONER, RAVALLI COUNTY, MONTANA, PETITIONER 95-1478 v. UNITED STATES RICHARD MACK, PETITIONER 95-1503, the court ruled that the county sheriff is the ultimate law enforcement officer of the county, even over federal law enforcement agencies. A number of county sheriffs across the nation have used this case as their legal foundation to refuse to enforce federal gun control laws. In most of these cases, the county sheriff’s claim that federal gun control laws violate the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and therefore are illegal and should not be enforced.
So in the case of Dallas County Sheriff Valdez, does she or doesn’t she have the right to refuse to enforce federal requests to detain illegals? Federal immigration laws are not unconstitutional unlike gun control laws that are unconstitutional. Where does the line separating the rights and authority of county sheriffs lie and has Valdez crossed that line or not?
I support the authority of county sheriff’s but do not support the actions of Sheriff Valdez. It’s situations like this that make one realize that legal rulings often carry a two-edged sword that can work for and against what we believe to be right.