U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin stated in open court that he and another judge were alerted in January about coming Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids (conducted in February), the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday, with federal agents stating that the raids were to be done in retribution for Travis County’s “sanctuary” policies.
Newly elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced in January that her office would be limiting its cooperation with ICE, particularly when it comes to extending the detention of undocumented workers booked into a local jail, with the exception of those charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault, or human smuggling.
According to the Statesman, the judge made the statement during a hearing for Juan Coronilla-Guerrero, a defendant who was arrested upon arriving at the county courthouse for a hearing on two misdemeanor charges for which he had been arrested in January.
The courthouse arrest was conducted under a “warrant charging him with illegal re-entry into the U.S. because he had been previously deported,” the Statesman article added. Hernandez had denied ICE agents’ request that the county continue holding him on after he posted bail on the original charges.
Austin told the Statesman that he and U.S. Magistrate Mark Lane were briefed on the raid beforehand, and that “at least it was related to us in that meeting that it was the result of the sheriff’s new policy that this was going to happen.”
While February’s raids were conducted substantially different manner than usual, the Statesman noted, ICE regional field officer Dan Bible told the paper at the time that the city was not being targeted.
Both Hernandez (who was not in the meeting under discussion) and Lane declined to comment on the matter, the Statesman reported.
The Statesman reported in February that the percentage of ICE-defined “non-criminal” arrestees in that month’s raids was “significantly higher” than that in raids conducted in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.