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After Meeting With DHS Chief, Adler Still Unclear Where Austin Stands In 'Sanctuary' Battle

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
Austin Mayor Steve Adler delivers the State of the City address in January.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said today that he came away from a meeting with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday wishing for more clarity on the administration’s planned crackdown on “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice plans to withhold up to $4.1 billion from such jurisdictions, following through on an executive order President Donald Trump issued in January.  

Adler sought clarification from Kelly on how the executive order would affect cities like Austin, but the short meeting did not reveal much new information. Adler told reporters that Kelly said cities and counties should focus on getting “bad actors off the street.”

“And to that end, his priorities are in alignment with priorities here in Austin and Travis [County] and with all the mayors and police chiefs that had gathered,” Adler said. “Beyond that, we don’t have a lot of detail or certainty or timeline established.”

“I would like us to get to a place where we have greater certainty about what’s a sanctuary city and what will be the targeted sanction or remedy,” Adler said. “We just don’t know the answer yet.”

Adler also said he plans to follow up with the department to ask why people with no criminal history were reportedly detained in recent ICE raids in Austin.

Also Wednesday, Travis County joined 35 other cities and counties filing a brief in support of a San Francisco lawsuit challenging Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities. Austin signed a brief in support of a similar lawsuit filed by the county of Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this month.

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