A Texas sheriff spoke at a Thursday morning White House press briefing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matt Albence and said that if law enforcement were forced to release undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions from jails, it would put the public at risk.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn said about 7% of the 4,200 inmates in his county jail are undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes including murder, sexual assault of a child and driving while intoxicated — and 72% are repeat offenders. He then made reference to a federal court ruling by a California judge — he didn't specify which judge or what the ruling did — and said, "If we return them with this radical ruling out of California where you have a federal judge making law for the nation, or attempting to, it will put our communities in jeopardy."
"If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they're coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood," he said. "These drunks will run over your children and they will run over my children."
Waybourn said he knows many undocumented immigrants cross Texas' southern border looking for "a better day and something better for their family," but "the problem is, the very people they were fleeing, who preyed upon them, came with them.
"That's who we're trying to initially eliminate out of our country," Waybourn said.
The sheriff also defended Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, comparing public criticism of ICE to how soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated.
"[They are] eviscerating honorable people [who are] doing noble things and standing on the wall between good and evil for you and me," he said.
Immigration agents don't write the policies they enforce, Waybourn said. If people want change, he said, "Capitol Hill is down the street."
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized statements by Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn, who said undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions would be a threat to the public.