Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dealt his first fiscal threat yesterday to so-called “sanctuary cities” by making a $250 million array of criminal justice grants off-limits to counties that don't fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, reports the Associated Press. The new restrictions mirror a failed effort by Republicans in Congress last month to block money to jurisdictions that don't share immigration information or honor federal detention requests. The White House had threatened a veto, and Democrats criticized the proposal as anti-immigrant. Abbott, a Republican who frustrated conservative activists by not pushing get-tough immigration measures earlier, is implementing the idea on a smaller scale in Texas.
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez provoked Abbott's threat after announcing that the nation's seventh-largest jail may no longer honor all federal requests to keep certain immigrant suspects in extended custody under the Secure Communities program. Dallas County has yet to turn down any of the nearly 1,500 “immigration hold” requests this year, spokesman Raul Reyna said. More than a dozen Texas cities and counties have “soft” policies about whether they abide by the federal requests, a fact that has drawn criticism from conservative Republican groups and was behind an unsuccessful move in the legislative session this year to pass a state law requiring compliance.