Mayor: Miami-Dade jail to heed immigration detainer requests

AP News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2017 9:18 PM

MIAMI (AP) — Miami-Dade County's mayor instructed jail officials in that South Florida community on Thursday to honor all immigration detainer requests, a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent a memo to the county's corrections director saying jails should hold undocumented immigrants detained by police and turn them over to the Department of Homeland Security when requested.

Trump seemed to approve of Miami-Dade's decision, saying in a tweet late Thursday: "Miami-Dade Mayor drops sanctuary policy. Right decision. Strong!"

Before Thursday, Miami-Dade only held detainees if federal immigrations officials agreed to reimburse the county for the detention costs. The condition set in 2013 put the county in a Department of Justice report that listed sanctuary places that refused to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Miami-Dade turned over about 180 people to immigration officials in 2016 but was not reimbursed for any costs. Miami-Dade County mayor's spokesman, Michael Hernandez, said that it costs the county about $200 to hold a person for a day.

Gimenez said in an interview with The Miami Herald that he didn't want to risk losing millions in federal funds for $52,000, the cost of holding 100 undocumented immigrants that it declined to keep for immigration officials in 2016.

"I want to make sure we don't put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government for a $52,000 issue," he told the newspaper. "It doesn't mean that we're going to be arresting more people. It doesn't mean that we're going to be enforcing any immigration laws."

The Florida chapter of American Civil Liberties Union said it was disappointed to learn of the mayor's instructions. "Today's decision by Mayor Gimenez flies in the face of Miami's long history as a city of immigrants," said executive director Howard Simon.

The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, estimates 610,000 undocumented people live in Florida. The majority of them are Mexicans and Central Americans.