By Patrick Svitek
Austin Mayor Steve Adler is set to meet Wednesday with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as the debate over "sanctuary cities" continues to ripple across Texas.
Adler said Sunday he will attend the meeting in Washington as part of a group of mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors as well as police chiefs associated with some of the cities.
Austin has been a battleground in the sanctuary cities debate since Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced in January that her department would reduce its cooperation with federal immigration authorities, leading Gov. Greg Abbott to cut off state funding to her office. Now state lawmakers are working on an anti-sanctuary cities bill—it has already passed the Senate—that Abbott has declared an emergency item.
Shortly after taking office in January, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that aims to punish jurisdictions with a policy that "prevents or hinders the enforcement of federal law" on immigration. Adler said he will be looking for clarification Wednesday on what exactly the order means for cities like Austin.
"When I look at the federal order, the federal order talks about potentially limiting or denying funding in the jurisdictions that violate the federal law," Adler said. "And nothing that Travis County is doing at this point—or the city—violates federal law."
"From where we sit, Austin's one of the safest cities in the country, and we're hoping to be able to stay that way," Adler added.