MIAMI - Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said it was important for immigration advocates to understand that the Miami-Dade Police Department was not going to function as an immigration enforcement agency.
Gimenez, who is requiring the Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections to detain undocumented immigrants at the behest of the federal government, released a statement on Friday.
"Our residents should never fear that Miami-Dade police officers will request anyone's immigration status," Gimenez said in the statement. "Our police officers protect and serve all our residents regardless of immigration status."
Gimenez's order followed President Donald Trump's Wednesday executive order threatening communities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Trump tweeted a link to a Miami Herald story saying Gimenez made the "right decision. Strong!"
Advocates of the undocumented population in Miami-Dade strongly disagreed. Angry protesters remained outside of County Hall for most of the day, and said Gimenez was weak for "caving in" to Trump's threats of refusing to give federal funding to Miami-Dade.
City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said on Twitter that he was "disappointed" with Gimenez decision, because the job of police officers was to protect and serve the residents.
"I think some constituents are actually overreacting to what we are doing. We are basically going back to 2014," Gimenez said during a Friday morning interview with FOX & Friends. "We will honor the request of the federal government to detain any illegal immigrant in our custody regardless of the fact that they will pay for it or not."
Gimenez said the federal government should reimburse Miami-Dade for the cost of detention, but under Trump's threat of losing federal funds it makes financial sense to cover the cost.
"It was really a no brainer," Gimenez said during the FOX & Friends interview.
When the federal government failed to pay back in 2013, the county stopped keeping the undocumented migrants. This prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to designate Miami-Dade as a sanctuary county. This will soon change.
"Miami-Dade County has never been a sanctuary community," Gimenez said.
Gimenez also added that this doesn't mean undocumented residents should be afraid to report a crime or interact with police officers. The arrests will only apply to those who have Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds.
"Our police officers protect and serve all our residents regardless of immigration status," Gimenez said. "And our residents should feel confident that their county police department will continue to honorably serve our community."
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