San Antonio Police Chief William McManus turned away a Department of Homeland Security agent before freeing a dozen illegal aliens, according to a DHS investigative report.
The agent from Homeland Security Investigations offered to help police interview 12 illegals found stashed in a truck on Dec. 23. But the agent was told “no” by the chief who said he did not want HSI to “scare people.”
McManus said his department would handle the case and kept the agent away from the migrants, even though only one on-duty police detective spoke Spanish. Within 2 ½ hours, all of the illegals were released, with no witness statements taken.
The truck driver, Herbert Alan Nichols, was detained. But without any witness accounts, no charges were filed and he, too, was freed.
The case attracted the attention of Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office is investigating whether the chief violated Texas’s anti-sanctuary law. The law, Senate Bill 4, requires local law enforcement to cooperate with federal agencies in immigration matters.
SAPD’s rank and file have bridled at McManus’s actions.
“The DHS report directly contradicts the chief’s public statements, in which he said federal agents could have arrested the immigrants after detectives finished their investigation. The HSI agent was not allowed access to the suspects,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association.
“This is a damning report from Homeland Security,” Helle concluded. “It shows that the chief broke with standard procedure by denying DHS their investigatory role and then released the suspects into our city instead of turning them over to Homeland Security Investigations, as is proper.”
While the Attorney General’s Office continues its investigation, city officials stand by their top cop – even as a dozen illegal aliens are in the wind and a human-smuggling suspect walks free. In a duck-and-cover maneuver, the city announced a revised police “communications protocol” in April:
“Unless (Homeland Security Investigations) clearly state that they will lead the investigation, SAPD personnel will conduct the investigation under SAPD procedures for filing with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.”
That’s a distinction without a difference. The restated policy verbiage, like this entire episode, flouts the spirit, if not the letter, of Texas’s anti-sanctuary law. The nation’s seventh biggest city remains at risk from its own police chief.