MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Up to 100 people rallied in front of Miami-Dade County Hall Friday morning to protest Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s decision to reverse the county’s policy when it came to immigration detainer requests from the U.S Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Gimenez reportedly did an about face on the policy after President Trump vowed to cut off federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities.” Miami-Dade County was on the Department of Justice’s official list.
Up until now, the county had refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally because the government wouldn’t guarantee that they would reimburse the county for the expense.
This week, Gimenez issued a memo stating the Miami-Dade would put a hold on undocumented inmates at the county jail if requested. A spokesman said that hold would last for 48 hours.
“I came here to tell Mayor Gimenez to not be so spineless, to not be such a coward, to stand up for immigrants. He’s just bowing to Trump immediately, just folding and we need him to stand up for us,” said protester David Abud.
Those at the rally said this went beyond the financial issue. It was, instead, a moral one and they were surprised that Gimenez did not stand fast like the mayors of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Closer to home, the mayors of Broward and Palm Beach counties also chose to stay the course and not be intimidated by Trump’s threat.
“Gimenez was the first one to make a statement and take a side on this issue where other sanctuary cities have not. Miami-Dade is one of the counties with highest number of immigrants and he, himself, is an immigrant. This is just a total slap in the face to immigrants in this county who have built their lives and built this city,” said protester Lillian Gil.
Things got a bit heated when a lone Trump supporter showed up.
After a little pushing and shoving, the protest continued.
Protesters called the mayor a traitor and tried to get to his office to deliver a letter. They were blocked at the front doors.
Eventually a few were allowed in, only to find out the mayor is out of town with his grandchildren.
Mayoral spokesman Michael Hernandez tried to calm fears in the immigrant community saying local police will not be used as federal agents.
“Miami-Dade police officers will never act as immigration enforcement agents. They never have nor will they,” Hernandez said. “They will never be asked to enforce immigration law. I want to make that crystal clear, period.”
The Florida Democratic Party weighed in on Gimenez’s decision. They called it “unconscionable.”
“Mayor Gimenez’s cowardice will expose tens of thousands of families to deportation, despite the county commission’s unanimous 2013 vote to designate Miami-Dade a sanctuary county. Mayor Gimenez must not let the Trump administration turn our local law enforcement officials into a deportation force that will tear families apart,” said Miami-Dade DEC Chair Juan Cuba. “Mayors from across the country have refused to turn their backs on immigrants. Miami-Dade County should proudly do the same.”