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CaptionCloseJosue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si shared these photos of Romero in high school....

Bexar Sheriff Salazar to Gov. Abbott: immigration requirements for jails ‘troubling’

CaptionCloseJosue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si shared these photos of Romero in high school....

Bexar Sheriff Salazar to Gov. Abbott: immigration requirements for jails ‘troubling’

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Josue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si shared these photos of Romero in high school. He had been involved in the program since middle school.

Josue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si

Josue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si shared these photos of Romero in high school. He had been involved in the program since middle school.

Josue Romero, currently a second-year student at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, was arrested and is now being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Tuesday Feb. 15, 2017. SAY Si

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar is facing criticism for a letter he sent Gov. Greg Abbott saying he'll continue honoring requests by federal authorities to hold immigrants in the county jail.

In his letter, Salazar said his hands are tied and he’ll continue holding inmates U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants to investigate because Abbott threatened to withhold state grants if he doesn't. The sheriff wrote that he has “concerns about the Office of the Governor subjecting the state and local officials to the dictates of the federal government.”

The letter was in response to what Salazar called a request for certification that Bexar County honors ICE detainers.

In his letter, Salazar criticized Abbott’s choice of words.

“The new required certification is troubling to me on multiple fronts,” Salazar wrote. “First, the term ‘illegal alien’ is personally offensive.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday, immigration activists delivered to the sheriff’s office a petition asking Salazar to halt the policy.

The petition was delivered by Josue Romero, a 19-year-old from Honduras who has a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that gives reprieves from deportation to some young undocumented immigrants. Romero was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge earlier this month, then turned over to ICE. He was later released and said Tuesday he’s no longer in imminent danger of deportation.

Romero said he’s asking Salazar to honor detainers on a “case-by-case basis,” so immigrants arrested on minor crimes are not turned over to ICE.

“Right now, anybody who gets arrested is almost guaranteed to get deported,” he said. “I don’t think it makes any sense to treat someone who’s parked illegally the same as someone who killed somebody or committed an assault.”

The petition, which was circulated by the advocacy group Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and has almost 3,000 signatures, goes even farther. It asks the Sheriff’s Office to only honor detainers if they’re accompanied by warrants signed by a judge, deny ICE access to Bexar County databases, refuse to notify ICE when someone is released from the jail and limit when ICE can question those held in the jail. Some of those measures would likely put the sheriff’s office in violation of an executive order signed last month by President Donald Trump that denies federal grants to sanctuary cities.

The petition also asks Salazar not to take part in a program that deputizes local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws, which the sheriff said in an interview last week that he would not participate. In that interview, Salazar said he’s concerned immigrants won’t report crimes if his deputies act as immigration officers and addressed the state funding issue.

“We know what’s needed here,” he said of local law enforcement. “Just let us protect and serve our community the way we see fit.”

Click here to read more about the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office’s immigration policies

jbuch@express-news.net

Twitter: @jlbuch

 

 

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