Undocumented immigrants in Miami-Dade County jails will now be released despite whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asks for a hold, a county commissioner announced Wednesday.
"It's not a mandate anymore -- it's a request. We're not doing it," said Commissioner Sally Heyman.
"Why should local taxpayers be funding beds in local jails to help the federal government deport people who pose no risk to Miami-Dade County?" said Cheryl Little, an immigrant advocate.
Little said the majority of immigrants detained and eventually deported either had no criminal record or a minor traffic violation.
County officials want to prevent families from being separated and to save money. They estimate a each inmate in the county jail costs $142 a day.
ICE released a statement, saying: “The identification and removal of criminal offenders is ICE’s highest priority and over the past three and half years, ICE has been dedicated to implementing smart, effective reforms to the immigration system that allow it to focus its resources on priority individuals. ICE has implemented clear priorities that focus on convicted criminals and other public safety threats, on those who repeatedly violate our immigration laws. The federal government alone sets these priorities and places detainers on individuals arrested on criminal charges to ensure that dangerous criminal aliens and other priority individuals are not released from prisons and jails into our communities.”