DHS Secretary to crack down on sanctuary cities

New U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is decrying "sanctuary cities" in a state that recently approved strict laws banning them. (CBS Austin)

The fight over sanctuary cities continues as the new Department of Homeland Security secretary urges other states to pass laws like Texas' SB 4.

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen hosted a press conference in Austin Tuesday where some leaders continue to fight the controversial law. Nielsen argues sanctuary cities put law enforcement lives at risk.

One week on the job, Nielsen is traveling the country meeting with local law enforcement and ICE. Her focus -- cracking down on sanctuary cities.

"Let me be clear. Sanctuary policies make our communities less secure. Instead of keeping dangerous criminal behind bars where they belong and turning them over to ICE for removal, sanctuary cities send criminals back out into our communities," said Nielsen. Earlier this year Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez declined honoring immigration detainer requests from ICE unless the inmate was accused of a violent crime. Hernandez said if ICE agents wanted someone arrested then they would need to produce a warrant.

Nielsen acknowledged Austin's fight against SB 4 -- known as anti-sanctuary city legislation.

"Unfortunately in some communities -- sanctuary communities -- our efforts to protect communities are thwarted by elected officials," Nielsen said.

It's a cause that lead to the brief arrest of Austin City Council Member Greg Casar at a protest earlier this year. For months Austin and San Antonio have been fighting SB 4 in court.

"This was never about safety. This was about instilling fear in our immigrant community," city council member Delia Garza said at a rally in August.

Tuesday Nielsen announced seven new 287(g) ICE partnerships with Texas law enforcement--- including Burnet and Williamson counties. The agreement authorizes local law enforcement to screen inmates for immigration violations. Inmates are then turned over to ICE custody while in jail instead of requiring immigration agents to track them down themselves.

"On the streets, criminals have the advantage. Sanctuary cities put law enforcement lives at risk in favor of criminals who have no right to be in the United States," Nielsen said.

According to Nielsen the federal government stared the year with thirty-one 287(g) ICE partnerships and now has sixty. Nielsen also said that Obama administration Added six new 287 (g) agreements in eight years.

Nielsen said she plans to put a stop to sanctuary cities in the United States and supports withholding federal funding from cities and states that do not comply.

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