Sheriff pushes back against Texas' "sanctuary city" ban

Sanctuary cities ban
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Last Updated May 8, 2017 10:30 PM EDT

AUSTIN, Texas -- On Monday, the state of Texas sued Travis County to enforce U.S. immigration law. The county, which includes the capital of Austin, has resisted. But now the governor has signed a new law banning so-called "sanctuary cities."

"This law does not keep our community safe, in fact, it goes against public safety," Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez says.

Hernandez has been in a standoff with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over the legality of sanctuary cities, which are communities that don't entirely comply with federal immigration law. But now, honoring those requests will be mandated by a new state law in Texas. 

She and other law enforcement officials must carry them out after Abbott signed the law Sunday night on Facebook Live -- where he didn't have to answer questions.

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"This law cracks down on policies like the Travis County sheriff, who declared that she would not detain known criminals accused of violent crimes," Abbott said in the broadcast.

Reacting to the Facebook Live message, Hernandez said, "Miscommunication ... Misinformation based on fear."

But if the law goes into effect, she said that she will have to change her policies. "I will not violate the law," she said.

The law forces sheriffs to honor requests made by the federal government to hold people already in jail who may be here illegally. Failure to do so could result in a fine, jail time or removal of the sheriff from office.

It also allows police officers to ask crime victims and witnesses their nationality or immigration status.

"I believe that this law encourages racial profiling," Hernandez says.

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Abbott argues that the law will make communities safer, but every major police chief in Texas opposes it.  

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has tweeted, "Violent crime is on rise across our nation & some would rather men & women in blue go after cooks and nannies, instead of hardened criminals."

The law doesn't go into effect until Sept. 1, but before then, the American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to fight it in court. This law applies to universities across the state of Texas but it doesn't apply to churches.