MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Previously, Miami-Dade County held arrested immigrants if the feds asked, but only if they were charged with a serious, violent offense.
People have taken to the streets protesting Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s decision to detain any immigrant who comes into the county jail system if immigration asks, even those charged with petty offenses.
Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is urging citizens to call their county commissioners and lobby them to overturn the mayor’s decision.
“You don’t hold people in jail without a warrant authorized by a court,” said the ACLU’s Howard Simon. “If it’s good enough for Broward County, if it’s good enough for Palm Beach County, it should be good enough for Miami-Dade County as well.”
Gimenez has said he is following an executive order from President Donald Trump, who wields a huge financial stick over county hall and could punish Miami-Dade dearly, when the cost of temporarily detaining immigrants is minuscule.
“I don’t want to put at risk the millions of dollars that we got from the federal government for an issue that is basically a $52,000 a year issue here in Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said in a recent interview on CBS4.
Among county commissioners, only Xavier Suarez is on record opposing the immigrant detentions.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava has suggested it might be worth a second look.
“The county is going to be sued for this, if not by civil rights organizations, then by the people who are illegally and unconstitutionally detained in jail,” said the ACLU’s Simon.
Gimenez’ spokesman, though, says the mayor is on firm legal ground.
“There are multiple legal opinions. The mayor feels he is certainly within his legal authority as mayor of Miami-Dade County. He is not going to change his posture,” said mayoral spokesman Michael Hernandez.
It is a posture that assures undocumented immigrants arrested for anything will be detained for 48 hours if the feds want.
The county commission will hold a special meeting later this month to discuss the detention issue.
The mayor’s office is confident commissioners will uphold his policy.