Sheriff Bill Waybourn is prolonging open records requests while working with ICE. photo: social media

Elected officials nervous about honoring open records requests have a lifeline in the state attorney general’s office. In a pinch, they can always just kick the can down to Ken Paxton in Austin to buy time.

That’s what Sheriff Bill Waybourn did recently in response to demands for information by United Fort Worth, a grassroots group that advocates for minority communities (“Where Are Sheriff Waybourn’s Papers?” Apr 25, 2018). United Fort Worth claims that Waybourn’s partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through 287(g) – a federal program that allows ICE agents to train local law enforcement officers – is resulting in the detainment and deportation of nonviolent undocumented locals.

Not so fast, Waybourn said in a short video released last week on social media. 

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Dispelling what he described as “confusion” over his controversial agreement with ICE, Waybourn said his peace officers are not conducting raids and are focused on verifying the immigration status of detainees charged with Class B misdemeanors and higher. He went on to give stats on the number of violent offenders currently in county jails. In a public statement, United Fort Worth responded that “the recent video about 287(g) is another attempt to circumvent the public information process by giving the appearance of transparency without allowing access to the actual records.”

Waybourn’s office is one of 18 statewide partaking in 287(g), a program that greatly expanded amid Donald Trump’s deportation efforts. 

In our experience, Paxton, who is fighting two criminal charges of securities fraud, is usually amenable to reasonable and legal requests, meaning Waybourn will likely have to hand over the requested documents – just not anytime soon.