By Cristina Lima and Marc Caputo
January 26, 2017
The mayor of Miami-Dade county on Thursday ordered county jails to comply with federal detention requests, citing President Donald Trump's executive orders concerning "sanctuary jurisdictions" for illegal immigrants.
But in doing so, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez tells POLITICO that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to start cooperating with the county and paying for the detention of illegal immigrants in one of the nation's largest counties of foreign-born residents.
"If ICE asks us to detain someone we arrested --not for immigration issues because we're not immigration officers-- we feel ICE should pay the bill and bear the responsibility for housing their inmate," Gimenez said.
"There is no change in broader policy," he said. "The change here is we just won't require a letter from ICE for each inmate. But we are not dropping our request to reimburse county taxpayers fairly for aiding the federal government."
Due to ICE's refusal to adequately reimburse the county during President Barack Obama's just-ended term, the county commission in 2013 passed a policy to refuse undocumented-immigrant detainer requests from the federal government. The move earned the county the reputation as a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants, but Miami-Dade officials and others in the state bristled at the designation .
Gimenez noted that Trump's action to withhold federal funding from "sanctuary jurisdictions" technically didn't apply to the county because the president's order narrowly focused on agencies that violated a federal law that prohibited the obstruction of information requested by immigration officials.
Gimenez said his effort to accommodate Trump would hopefully incentivize his administration to cover the estimated $50,000 cost for housing about 200 inmates annually.
Still, the move essentially ends the county's standing as a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.
Though the county never officially declared itself as a sanctuary, it has effectively served as one since the county's 2013 decision to stop aiding ICE.
“Miami-Dade County complies with federal law and intends to fully cooperate with the federal government,” Gimenez wrote in a letter addressed to the county's department of corrections and rehabilitation. “I will partner with the Board of County Commissioners to address any issues necessary to achieve this end.”
In all, about seven counties in Florida have refused to detain illegal immigrants due to ICE's actions. Other county sheriffs said they wouldn't detain potential immigrants identified by the agency because ICE's evidence is sometimes wrong and American citizens have been unfairly detained for immigration offenses, leading to lawsuits.
In a speech speech at the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, Trump vowed that his executive orders would save lives and “save billions and billions of dollars.”
“For too long your office’s agents haven’t been allowed to properly do their jobs,” Trump said. “You know that, right? Do you know that? Absolutely. But that’s all about to change.”
Trump added: "By working together, safe borders and economic cooperation, I truly believe we can enhance the relation between our two nations, to a degree not seen before, certainly, in a very, very long time. I think our relationship with Mexico is going to get better."
The Miami-Dade administrator’s decision comes on the heels of several major city officials – from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – openly rejecting Trump’s orders. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio went as far as to threaten legal action if the president followed through on his promise to cut off federal dollars from so-called “sanctuary cities.”
"President Trump issued an executive order today and its purported purpose was to enhance public safety, but here in New York City and in cities across this nation this executive order could in fact undermine public safety," de Blasio said at a press conference in New York Wednesday.
The president’s executive order directing federal officials to begin the “immediate construction of a physical wall” on the southern-U.S. border, meanwhile, has drawn sharp criticism from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who on Thursday cancelled a planned meeting with Trump next week.
“This morning we told the White House we won't attend next Tuesday's meeting with [President Trump],” Peña Nieto tweeted in a series of tweets Thursday morning. “Mexico reiterates its will to work with the US to achieve agreements for both of us.”
Trump on Thursday claimed that the decision to call off the meeting was mutual, saying that the gathering would be pointless if the Mexican leader did not show the U.S. the proper “respect.”
“I’ve said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall. And I’ve made that clear to the government of Mexico,” Trump said Thursday to congressional Republicans at a retreat in Philadelphia. “To that end, the president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”
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