A sheriff in south Texas has prohibited deputies from working at tent cities housing migrant children separated from their parents.
El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles made the decision to distance his county from the Trump administration's “zero-tolerance” policy. He said he didn't want community members to think the sheriff's department supported the policy.
Tent cities, temporary shelters housing migrant minors, have increased in population since the prevalence of recent family separations at the border. Some of Wiles' deputies worked as guards at the tent city in Tornillo, Texas.
“I told them absolutely not,” Wiles told The Washington Post. “I think it's wrong. It's not consistent with the values of the sheriff's office.”
Mayors from New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin and more were denied entry to the Tornillo, Texas detention facility where immigrant children are living in a “tent city.” pic.twitter.com/i0zK1B8Oum
Because sheriffs are elected officials, deputies have to answer directly to them, and they aren't legally required to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
“He has every right to sit there and deny who should work [what] part-time job,” Robert Horstman, the president of the Sheriff's Deputy Association, told KFOX 14. “And there's really nothing that we have to say for or against it, is pretty much the rule.”
He also added that deputies have other options for off-duty jobs such as security or traffic control.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the separation of migrant families. Administration officials have said the order doesn't address when children will be reunited with their families. Wiles said his decision will likely stay the same.
“Certainly, if they come back to us and they provide us with a different environment that we can support, then maybe,” Wiles said. “But quite frankly, I think they have the capacity to provide for security at these facilities without us.”