Protesters confront Miami-Dade commissioners over new immigration policy

Advocates of undocumented want Miami-Dade to 'stand with immigrants'

By Carlos Suarez, Liane Morejon, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. - Despite Mayor Carlos Gimenez's assurances that the Miami-Dade Police Department will not be acting as an immigration enforcement agency, advocates for the undocumented community turned out to City Hall on Tuesday. 

Gimenez's Jan. 26 order to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain undocumented migrants for up to 48 hours followed President Donald Trump's threat to withhold funding from  "sanctuary jurisdiction" communities. 

Miami-Dade County has been paying for the correctional costs that apply to Miami-Dade inmates who were arrested on an unrelated charge without reimbursement. But Gimenez said that being blocked from the federal funds presented a greater loss. 

The issue was not on the commissioner's meeting agenda, but protesters took to the podium anyway.  The action followed a 10-page letter that leaders from the Service Employees International Union, The American Civil Liberties Union, Catholic Legal Services and other organizations sent to commissioners on Monday. 

The letter includes a 2012 memo from Gimenez claiming the County spent more than $620,000 a year to cover ICE requests. The advocates in the letter claim the figure didn't account  for the costs of keeping inmates who refuse to post bond to avoid getting transferred to a federal immigration detention.

The County stands to lose some $350 million in annual federal funding, Gimenez said on Sunday during "This Week in South Florida." 

The commission will hold a special meeting to review Gimenez's order to comply with ICE's program on Feb. 17.