GOP-Backed ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Bill Wouldn’t Have Prevented Dallas Crime Spree

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelFebruary 16, 2017 11:10 am

Gov. Greg Abbott has made one man the poster child for his efforts to crack down on Texas “sanctuary cities.”

Brandi Grissom, Austin Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News says his name is Juan Rios. Last year in Dallas he went on a crime spree.

Rios killed two people in Dallas before fleeing to Austin, where he kidnapped someone and set an apartment on fire before he was arrested.

“It turned out this person, Juan Rios, wasn’t actually his real name,” Grissom says. “He was an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico who had been deported three times before this crime actually happened.”

Yet, in a story out Thursday, Grissom says Republican-backed legislation like Senate Bill 4, wouldn’t actually have prevented the crimes Rios committed.

“The problem that his case brings to light isn’t necessarily having to do with local enforcement of federal immigration laws but simply how porous our border is that he was allowed to come back and forth so many times,” Grissom says.

“He crossed illegally using a fake identity at least 35 times that federal officials know about. But that’s not a local enforcement issue, that’s an issue of border security and a federal problem and not one that local law enforcement could really do anything about. So what immigration lawyers I talked to said is that the sanctuary city ban sort of isn’t the correct way to address the problem of immigrants who might come into this country and commit violence.”

Texas lawmakers are making progress on crafting the state’s new budget. One of the top priorities is strengthening Child Protective Services in order to comply with a recent federal court ruling.

A House committee heard from budget advisors yesterday about kinship care, when a child is placed with relatives instead of in foster care.

Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) raised questions about whether children in this program receive enough funding.

“It’s a thousand dollars per what? Per month, so that it’s $12,000 a year?” Giddings said.

“No, so for the kinship payments – I’ll correct something I said slightly,” said Julie Lindsay, testifying at the hearing. “It’s $1,000 for the first child when they’re placed and then it’s $495 for each additional child at the time of placement, and then they’re eligible for a flexible payment every year thereafter – that’s $500 per child.”

“This is $1,000 per year?” Giddings said.

Giddings argued that kinship care is a program with great potential to improve the CPS system.

Customs and Border Protection is suspending operations at a temporary holding facility in Donna.

It opened two months ago to address the spike in people seeking asylum at South Texas ports of entry.

Still, the facility will stay in place in case it’s needed again.