Detained Immigrants and Advocates Sue Miami-Dade County for Complying with ICE Detainer Requests
According to detained immigrants and immigrant rights groups, the County policy of holding immigrants with ICE detainer requests in local jails violates the Constitution
July 23, 2018
MIAMI — Together with detained immigrants, WeCount and Florida Immigrant Coalition filed a class action lawsuit against Miami-Dade County for unlawfully holding immigrants in local jails, a result of their decision to comply with federal ICE detainer requests. The case seeks an injunction stopping the county’s controversial policy, which has ripped local families apart and struck fear in immigrant communities. Miami-Dade County voluntarily caved to Donald Trump’s threats on the issue over a year ago, becoming the first major metro area to do so. The policy has resulted in over a thousand local residents being unlawfully detained for ICE by local authorities, ongoing protests, and enormous pushback from the community.
Lawyers from Community Justice Project, the University of Miami School of Law Immigration Clinic, and a pro bono team from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP brought the suit on behalf of the immigrant organizations and two individuals illegally re-arrested on civil immigration charges by Miami-Dade County. Both individual plaintiffs were accused of driving without a license.
Plaintiff C.F.C., a member of WeCount! and a local agricultural business owner, has now spent over sixty-five days separated from her eight children and has missed the birth of her grandchild. While shopping for groceries for a Mother’s Day meal with her five-year-old child and then-pregnant daughter, C.F.C. was in a minor accident in the parking lot. The individuals in the other car jumped out of the vehicle and became aggressive, yelling at C.F.C., telling her to “go back to Mexico!” Homestead Police officers arrived and arrested C.F.C. at the scene for driving without a license. On May 13, 2018, C.F.C posted bond and should have been released. Instead of releasing her, Defendants unlawfully re-arrested her pursuant to an ICE detainer. After C.F.C.’s unlawful arrest by Defendants, C.F.C. was detained by ICE.
Plaintiff S.C.C. is the owner of a local landscaping company that employed approximately one dozen workers before he was forced to shut down due to the county’s actions. He was arrested on charges stemming from an inability to renew his driver’s license after changes to Florida law and has languished in local custody for over forty days. On Monday, a judge set his bond at $2. S.C.C. posted his bond, but rather than being released, he was re-arrested by the county in violation of the US Constitution and Florida law.
The Miami-Dade County Commission has the power to end this policy and restore Miami-Dade's reputation as a welcoming community for immigrants. Commissioners Levine-Cave, Suarez and Monestime have stood up against this harmful policy since its inception.
Days after Donald Trump was sworn into office, Miami-Dade County became the first to capitulate to his anti-immigrant agenda. By agreeing to honor immigration detainers, Miami-Dade turned their local jails into the first stop in a deportation pipeline. As a result, families are being torn apart and local taxpayers are footing the bill. The County received over 966 immigration detainer requests in the eleven month period following the decision. The Gimenez-Trump policy has swelled local jails by adding an additional 56 days in local custody to the average individual with a detainer. 98% of individuals with detainers released to ICE had never had a previous offense. It disproportionately impacts Black immigrants, who make up 22% of those still in detention.
The Gimenez-Trump policy has cost taxpayers approximately $12.5 million dollars in additional jailing costs between Jan. 27 and Dec. 28, 2017. Extrapolated over a year, assisting ICE could end up costing the county over $13.6 million annually. It has struck fear in immigrant communities, and brought national shame on Miami-Dade County. With the courts blocking Trump's efforts to withhold federal funds, even the flimsy justifications offered by the Mayor are gone. It's time to become a welcoming city once again.
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