In South Florida, temperatures were hotter inside than out, after the Miami-Dade Commissioners signed off on the Mayor’s plan for the county to become less of a sanctuary
President Trump (January 25, 2017) We are going to get the bad ones out, the criminals and the drug dealers and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders.
Twenty four hours after President Trump announced a plan to cut federal funding to Sanctuary Cities, Mayor Carlos Gimenez became the first local leader to fall in line.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez We are an inclusive county, we are a county of immigrants, I am an immigrant to this great country. We are are also a country of laws.
Miami has one of the largest immigrant communities in the country More than half its residents were born overseas. But an estimated 160,000 immigrants are in the county illegally, and how to handle the ones who have run afoul of the law has divided the community.
Cheryl Little: And I can tell you, I was shocked, when someone called me and said, “Did you hear what Mayor Gimenez just did?” I didn’t believe it.
Cheryl Little runs Americans for Immigrant Justice, a Miami-based not-for-profit that provides legal aid for immigrants, those who are here legally and those who aren’t.
Cheryl Little: I mean this is an immigrant community and there’s a real sense of betrayal here, and I don’t know how long it's going to take us to get over it.
The mayor’s new policy requires local law enforcement to keep anyone already arrested and jailed for an extra 48 hours, if federal immigration authorities want to pick them up. For illegal immigrants, an arrest for drunken driving, robbery, or even disorderly conduct, could get them on a fast-track to deportation.
Cheryl Little:I think what we’re probably looking at moving forward is that long term residents-people that have lived here for years-worked hard, paid taxes, have U.S. citizen children are going to be filling our immigration detention centers.Families are going to be torn apart.
Monica: So basically if my father gets stopped or any undocumented immigrants gets stopped, that could end them up in their country, just being deported.
Monica, is a client of Little’s. She was brought here from Honduras at the age of nine. A so-called “Dreamer,” Monica is protected under an executive order signed by President Obama. But she worries about her father who has been living in the shadows for years.
Monica: A single DUI checkpoint that you know, my father does not have to be drunk or anything or under the influence but just the fact that he’s being stopped because it’s a checkpoint, he could end up in jail and getting deported.
That’s a point Mayor Gimenez strongly disputes. He says in Miami Dade County, any non-arrestable crime, like a traffic violation or driving without a license, will result in a citation, not an arrest.
Gimenez:Those folks with minor crimes will not be arrested. Remember we don’t know if you are undocumented or illegal when you have an interaction with Miami Dade police. We don’t ask the question, it’s none of our concern, however if you commit a crime that anybody else would be arrested for, that’s what you’re going to be arrested for.
According to data we obtained from Miami Dade County, more than 60 individuals have been held for federal authorities since the policy change. They had been arrested for serious crimes like first degree murder, aggravated assault and burglary but also lesser crimes like marijuana possession and aggressive panhandling.
Gimenez insists the policy is narrowly tailored and focuses on serious criminals. But at a meeting with the nation’s police chiefs, President Trump made it clear he wants law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officers.
President Trump, February 8, 2017: You know the bad ones, you know the good ones. I want you to turn in the bad ones.”
President Trump isn’t just demanding that law enforcement hand over immigrants after they’ve been arrested. He has also reinstated “Secure Communities,” a program started in 2008 by President George W. Bush that encouraged information - sharing between local law enforcement and federal authorities.
Obama, July 1, 2010: the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are going through the process of immigrating legally
President Obama inherited Secure Communities and ran with it. The Obama Administration deported 2.4 million people, earning him the nickname by critics “Deporter in Chief.” But in 2014, the Obama Administration modified the program, opting for a more discriminating approach that prioritized the removal of violent criminals.
Scott Thuman: If this system were refined to the point that only the most dangerous convicted undocumented immigrants were deported, would there be anything wrong with that?
Cheryl Little: Look, I want our communities to be safe. I mean, every immigrant I know wants our community to be safe. What I don’t understand is why we have to be spending taxpayer money rounding up people um, who’ve committed no crimes or who have been charged with petty offenses
But as his Executive Order makes clear, President Trump is widening the net of who qualifies for deportation, and also bringing back a controversial program called 287g that deputized local police officers to ask residents about their immigration status.
Mayor Gimenez is adamant that he is only complying with one portion of Trump’s executive order,
Mayor Gimenez: We will not be immigration officers, I don’t know how much clearer I can make this: Miami Dade County Police officers will not be immigration officers. Period.
Scott Thuman: When you hear people on the other side of the argument say look it’s a burden on our system, what do you say?
Monica: We are not a burden, the government gives me zero aid, I pay everything out of pocket, I did not get any loans, any financial aid, I did not qualify for food stamps, I did not qualify for any relief on insurance; where is my help? How am I a burden to anyone in this country? If anything, I’m helping the economy.