Adler Says ICE Arrests Make Austin 'Less Safe'

Feb 14, 2017

After dozens of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests last week, Mayor Steve Adler wrote an open letter in opposition to deportation action in Austin by the federal agency.

In a letter on Medium, Adler characterized the detainment of undocumented immigrants in Austin as counterproductive and harmful to Austin.

“The overly broad way these ICE raids are being conducted is making our community less safe and causing disproportionate harm by dividing the families of non-serious offenders and others who are of no threat and have been caught merely in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Adler wrote.

The mayor also suggested the raids, which resulted in 51 arrests in the Austin area over a two-day period last week, were done without the involvement of the Austin Police Department or the Travis County Sheriff’s Department.

That department’s policy on so-called “detainer requests” from ICE has been a target of the Legislature in recent weeks. Gov. Greg Abbott pulled $1.5 million in state criminal justice grants after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez enacted a policy that bans deputies from cooperating with warrantless requests, unless suspects have been charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling.

Hernandez and others, including Adler, argue participation in ICE’s warrantless detainer requests is voluntary. Abbott and state lawmakers say the refusal to cooperate jeopardizes public safety and are seeking to pass a law classifying Austin as a "sanctuary" jurisdiction. 

In his letter, Adler said the ICE action threatens community trust in law enforcement.

“These raids are sowing distrust, not just with ICE but even with local law enforcement, and that makes our community less safe,” he wrote.

Austin Police Department interim Chief Brian Manley told the Austin American-Statesman yesterday his department wasn’t made aware of the action ahead of the immigration raids last week and said he wanted to “understand current and future operations.” 

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, who represents San Antonio, told KUT's Nathan Bernier that he expects the raids to conclude by the end of the week.