The Dallas County sheriff and Texas gubernatorial hopeful who rejected federal immigration detainers at her jail is getting smacked right and left on the campaign trail.

Lupe Valdez topped a large Democratic field in the March primary, but fell short of winning the needed majority. Prospects for securing her party’s nomination in this month’s runoff election took a hit last week when a Hispanic activist group refused to endorse her.

In a surreal inquisition, led by a Dallas high school student, Valdez was asked why the Latino community should trust her “anti-immigrant” policies. The premise of the question was bizarre, considering it was Valdez’s obstructive policies as sheriff that helped trigger enactment of Senate Bill 4, the nation’s toughest anti-sanctuary law.

Facts notwithstanding, Valdez was pilloried by progressives. Within hours of the candidate forum, the activist group Jolt endorsed her opponent, Andrew White. Runner-up in the nine-way primary, White follows party orthodoxy in avidly supporting sanctuary policies.

Valdez’s criticism of SB 4 hasn’t been enough to calm the restive Left. But, predictably, it drew the ire of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election and holds a commanding lead in the polls.

“This is not the first time Sheriff Valdez has made clear her intention to eviscerate Texas’ ban on sanctuary cities and it won’t be the last,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said.

Squeezed by a political vise of her own making, Valdez has tried to have it both ways.

“I complied with detainers or else we could have risked funding for a range of resources, including drug courts, juvenile justice programs and body cameras,” she explained, glossing over her initial refusals. “I didn’t have the ability to change federal or state policy and Governor Abbott got his way.”

“Communities and local law enforcement officials need partners in state and federal government, not threats and ultimatums,” Valdez added.

When a sheriff views responsible enforcement of immigration laws as “threats” and “ultimatums,” voters have reason to be concerned for their safety. When political activists assail Valdez for not going far enough in her lawless resistance, their chances of winning the Texas governorship fall somewhere between slim and none.

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a freelance journalist based in San Antonio.