Dallas sheriff faces suit over immigration holds

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez found herself in a tough position Tuesday.

Not only is she at odds with Gov. Abbott over her latest policy when it comes to detaining illegal immigrants; now, she’s also facing a civil rights lawsuit.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told FOX Tuesday night that Sheriff Valdez is forced to walk a tightrope on immigration holds, threatened by Gov. Abbott for not being tough enough, and sued by those who claim she's been too tough.             

Dallas County has not yet denied any requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

But Valdez said in September that the jail would no longer extend holds on immigrants believed to be in the U.S. illegally and suspected of minor crimes.

Local Democrats have leapt to the sheriff's defense, and ICE, while stopping short of praising her policy, is certainly not openly criticizing it.

A statement from ICE on Tuesday endorses "a common-sense approach that focuses enforcement resources on convicted criminals and individuals who threaten public safety and national security while also taking into account important community policing needs."

An ICE spokesman also directed FOX 4 to a memorandum from Homeland Security that argues the feds "cannot respond to all immigration violations or remove all persons illegally in the United States."    

"I think we should be checking the immigration status of every single individual in custody, regardless of the offense,” said Irving State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R).

"Sanctuary cities" has no legal meaning, but the term has become shorthand describing cities that provide refuge to people living in the country without legal permission.

For Republican lawmakers like Rinaldi, cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities is a priority.

Their efforts have been spurred forward by the July 1 shooting of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. The man charged in the killing was in the country illegally, despite a long criminal record -- mostly for drug convictions -- and multiple prior deportations.

"The San Francisco case of Kate Steinle illustrates very definitely that we should not only be targeting those who have committed violent crimes in the past, but those that have committed any crimes are a threat to public safety,” said Rinaldi.

"She's not dealing with San Francisco,” said state Rep. Robert Alnozo (D). "She has made a decision that they're minor offenses we need not to divide families. We need to keep them together.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Valdez released a short statement, basically saying the lawyers won't let her say anything because of the now pending litigation.

The lawsuit is against her and Dallas County.        

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