Travis County leaders have been meeting behind closed doors with federal immigration officials to get more information about how ICE is operating in Austin.
The KVUE Defenders and Austin American-Statesman have learned Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore and her staff met Tuesday with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Regional Director Daniel Bible and his staff. Bible met with County Judge Sarah Eckhardt on Friday, and with Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair in a separate meeting.
County officials say they mostly wanted to learn more about the agency's operations in Travis County, who they are going after and why, and about the issue of so-called collateral arrests – people arrested only because they happen to be with a targeted person at the time.
“[Bible] denied that there is a target on Travis County's back. I have asked for statistics with regard to collateral arrests over the last year to see if there has been a significant change,” said Eckhardt.
“I was told that is absolutely not what they do. They are very strategic about what they do and they are not into just going out and randomly picking people up,” Daugherty said.
KVUE reached out to ICE to discuss the local meetings. The agency said, “ICE officers routinely meet with local and state law enforcement officials as we further our partnership.”
Moore told KVUE and Austin American-Statesman’s Tony Plohetski her main goal in the meeting is to make sure she has the chance to prosecute accused felons before they are taken to a federal detention facility or deported. Moore added the county has lost inmates to ICE in the past before having a chance to bring them to justice.