Protest held after Miami-Dade mayor orders county to comply with immigration guidelines

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says county is not a 'sanctuary'

MIAMI – A protest was held Friday in downtown Miami by people who are opposed to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's order for jails to comply with federal immigration guidelines.

The move came after President Donald Trump promised to cut off federal funding to any city or county that deemed itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

Friday's rally began shortly after 11 a.m. outside County Hall.

"We think it's outrageous that Mayor Gimenez, at the first hint of them taking away federal funds, caves into President Trump when mayors across the country are standing up for the immigrant community," one man said.

Many protesters called Gimenez a traitor and said they believed his decision was made simply to curry favor with the new president. 

"I just feel like so many of these policies are directed at people of color, women, the immigrant community, and I can't tolerate a community that isn’t welcoming to me and the people that I care about," one protester said.

A Trump supporter also showed up at the rally, and Miami-Dade police were forced to intervene to make sure everything remained peaceful.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were possible targets of Trump's executive order, which was put into effect Wednesday, but Gimenez said Wednesday that the county was never a "sanctuary."

The mayor on Thursday directed the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department to "honor all immigration detainer requests received from the Department of Homeland Security."

"We used to require the federal government to assure us that they were going to reimburse us for the cost of that prisoner until they picked them up. We no longer will require that," Gimenez told reporters on Thursday. "So we're taking away any kind of excuse as to why the federal government could withhold any federal aid to Miami-Dade County, which is millions and millions of dollars."

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said Miami is not legally a sanctuary city, but he said he disagreed with how Gimenez reacted to Trump's threat.

"We don't direct anything," Regalado said. "Legally, we are not a sanctuary city, and because the city of Miami does not have jails, when we arrest we transport to county jail, so that's a county issue. That's why the commission passed a resolution, passing the county as a sanctuary. However, I do not agree with what the county is doing at this moment because there is no clarity."

The executive director of the ACLU of Florida spoke Thursday against the actions of Gimenez.

"He volunteered and in effect made himself and made our county the face of President Trump's deportation force," Howard Simon said.

Gimenez clarified his position Friday, tweeting that "it is important for our residents to understand that the Miami-Dade Police Department is not an immigration enforcement agency."

"My executive order did nothing to change that," he said.

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