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Mayor's Switch on Immigration Detention Protested in Miami-Dade

by Carmen Sesin /
Demonstrators protested at city hall and the office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Gimenez has ordered the county jail to honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to not release certain immigrants in their jail. About 67 percent of the county's population is Latino.WeCount! / WeCount!

MIAMI -– Immigration advocates rallied outside the office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Friday morning, a day after he ordered local jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests, abandoning the county’s status as a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

While mayors from across the country whose cities have been classified as “sanctuary” by the Department of Justice denounced Trump’s order, Miami-Dade County’s mayor, a Republican who has said he voted for Hillary Clinton, complied.

Jonathan Fried, Executive Director of the organization We Count!, which organized the rally said “it’s incredible and shameful” that an immigrant mayor would “buckle” at the mention of federal funds being removed.

President Donald Trump’s executive order signed on Wednesday called ”Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” would punish local governments that do not fully comply with federal immigration enforcement agencies by cutting off Federal grants.

“It’s just outrageous that our mayor is minimizing the impact of this policy,” Fried said.

Miami-Dade County is known for its vast and vibrant Latino community and had a population of close to 3 million in 2015. Nearly 67 percent of the population is Latino and more than 51 percent of the county is foriegn born.

According to Fried, around 200 people participated in the rally outside city hall. After, they held a press conference and tried to enter the building to speak to Gimenez. He said the doors of the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown Miami were closed by police so demonstrators couldn’t get in.

Related: 'Sanctuary Cities' Vow to Resist Trump Order Despite Funding Threat

The definition of “sanctuary” varies from city to city. While New York City goes as far as to provide identification cards to undocumented immigrants, other cities have police departments who simply do not check immigration status when they stop someone.

In the case of Miami-Dade, since 2013, the county has refused to indefinitely detain undocumented immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because the federal government does not fully reimburse the county for the expense of holding them.

The county never considered itself a “sanctuary” and asked the federal government to review its status last year.

Trump tweeted an article from the Miami Herald yesterday writing “Miami-Dade Mayor drops sanctuary policy. Right decision. Strong!”

In the same article, Gimenez is quoted saying “I want to make sure we don’t put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government for a $52,000 issue.” He said last year, the county declined to hold around 100 inmates wanted by the federal government because it would have cost around $52,000.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be arresting more people. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be enforcing any immigration laws,” he told the Herald.

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