A federal judge revealed that the raids run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February were, in fact, a targeted operation in retaliation for Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez's policies, confirming what many had suspected all along. The crackdown led to 51 arrests, including 28 people with no criminal background, leading many to believe the raid was payback for Hernandez limiting cooperation with the federal agency.
In open court on Monday, March 20, during a conversation with ICE Agent Laron Bryant, U.S. Judge Andrew Austin signaled he and magistrate Judge Mark Lane were notified prior to the February arrests that they would be forthcoming, the Statesman first reported. The revelation occurred during a hearing for Juan Coronilla-Guerrero, who was picked up by ICE at the Travis County Courthouse earlier this month ("ICE Continues Its Raids in Travis County," March 17). "Agent Shaffer came and briefed me and ... Judge Lane, at the very end of January, that we could expect a big operation; agents coming in from out of town," said Austin. "There was going to be a specific operation, and it was at least related to us in that meeting that it was a result of the sheriff's new policy, that this was going to happen.
"My understanding is, one of the reasons that happened was because the meetings that occurred with the field office director and the sheriff didn't go very well," Austin continued. The judge's revelation contradicts what ICE reported to local officials, including Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, who was told by ICE Agent Dan Bible in February that the Austin arrests were not an act of retribution.
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