State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, announced plans Friday to raise public funds for Travis County, days after Gov. Greg Abbott canceled about $1.5 million in criminal justice grants over the county's new "sanctuary" policy.
Rodriguez's initiative is called Travis County #StrongerTogether and it will allow the community to donate tax-deductible funds to the county in order to help sustain community programs that "protect our women, children and veterans," according to a news release. The initiative is partnering with the Austin Community Foundation (ACF).
"The people of Travis County are resilient and take care of each other. That's what Travis County #StrongerTogether is all about," Rodriguez said in an emailed statement. "If Governor Abbott is willing to sacrifice our veterans, women and children to score political points, then we will show him the power of love."
On Wednesday, Abbott's office announced it had canceled the grants it usually administers to Travis County after its sheriff, Sally Hernandez, announced her department would reduce its cooperation with federal immigration authorities when they request an inmate be flagged for possible deportation. The policy was set to go into effect Wednesday. On Friday, the Travis County Sheriff's Office reported that 39 people had been released from the jail who had federal immigration detention requests declined under the new policy, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Hernandez has shown no signs of backing down in the face of the funding cuts. In a Facebook post Friday, Hernandez endorsed Rodriguez's initiative, and predicted the money will help "maintain the programs Governor Abbott has defunded."
"Together, we can raise the funds necessary to ensure that our community's values are represented and that the most vulnerable in our community are receiving the assistance they need," Hernandez wrote.
The announcement of Rodriguez's initiative comes hours after the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 along party lines to advance a controversial state-based immigration bill to the full Senate. The revised Senate Bill 4, commonly known as the anti-sanctuary cities bill, would punish local government entities and college campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials or enforce immigration laws.
"I have been inspired to lead this effort by the number of people who have reached out and asked how to contribute to Travis County's threatened programs," said Rodriguez. "Together, we will raise the money necessary to ensure that our community's vulnerable do not suffer during these uncertain times. We are Travis County, and hate has no home here."
Rodriguez's move Friday was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
Related Tribune coverage:
- After hearing more than 16 hours of testimony, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 along party lines early Friday morning to advance a bill that would punish local government entities and college campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials or enforce immigration laws.
- Gov. Greg Abbott followed through this week on his threat to cut off state funding for Travis County over its new "sanctuary" policy.