A Texas sheriff is gaining attention online for remarks he made about undocumented immigrants in his county’s local prison population during a press briefing at the White House on Thursday.

During the briefing, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn, while pushing back against a ruling that blocked a Trump administration immigration policy, said that if some of the 4,200 inmates in his custody are repeat offenders who, if they are released, will come back to "run over your children.". 

“Of those people that we have in custody, we know for a fact that 72 percent of them are repeat offenders, so if we have to turn them loose, or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood. These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children,” Waybourn said.

“And if that happens, I know that you would want, and certainly I would want for you, the full force of the law. And immigration is part of that full force,” he added. 

The remarks prompted backlash some local Democrats in Tarrant County shortly after.

State Rep. Chris Turner (D) on Twitter called the sheriff’s comments “the kind of ignorant, irresponsible fear-mongering rhetoric that creates hate & division.”

“Has Sheriff Waybourn learned nothing in the aftermath of El Paso tragedy? No elected official should say things like this, especially in a county as diverse as Tarrant,” he continued. 

“This is coming from one of the top law enforcement officials in Tarrant County; someone who is supposed to be impartial while carrying out their elected duties,” tweeted State Rep. Nicole Collier (D).


Waybourn said that about 7 percent of those people in his custody are in the country illegally.

“And they were being held for such offenses as murder, sexual assault of children — there was about 70 of them. And there were robbers in there and kidnappers and people who committed arson and people who were DWI,” Waybourn said. 

“And out of that, you know, you think about that, if we return them with this radical ruling out of California where you have a federal judge making law for the nation, or attempting to, it will put our communities in jeopardy,” he said.

Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the Fort Worth-Star Telegram that he found it “appalling that a man with a badge and gun like Sheriff Waybourn would make such ignorant and twisted racist statements influenced by his far right-wing ideology.” 

“We know that in Texas, the data shows that native-born residents are much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants,” he said, adding: “This sheriff needs to resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately. The domestic terrorist attacks in El Paso and Gilroy have shown that this rhetoric can have deadly consequences.”