Miami-Dade Will Comply With Trump's Sanctuary-City Ban Despite Gigantic Population of Immigrants

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez — a man who himself was born in Cuba — sent a stark message to undocumented immigrants Thursday: Miami-Dade County will not protect you.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order pulling all federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal officials looking to weed out and deport undocumented people. The order threw Miami-Dade County — long touted as the immigrant-friendliest city in America — into a state of shock.

Gimenez signed an order today demanding that Miami-Dade County's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation comply with every aspect of Trump's plan.

"Yesterday, January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," Gimenez wrote to Daniel Junior, the county's interim corrections director. "In light of the provisions of the Executive Order, I direct you and your staff to honor all immigration detainer requests received from the Department of Homeland Security."

Gimenez, a Republican, might be the first mayor in America to openly comply with Trump's anti-undocumented-immigrant policies. A 2015 study estimated that roughly 150,000 undocumented immigrants live in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Those immigrants now face deportation or long, indefinite stints in detention centers under Trump's new plan. Legal analysts, however, have debated whether Trump could withdraw federal money without the backing of Congress — which means Gimenez might have just rolled over for Trump for absolutely no reason.

"Miami-Dade County complies with federal law and intends to fully cooperate with the federal government," Gimenez wrote. "I will partner with the Board of County Commissioners to address any issues necessary to achieve this end."

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat, tells New Times that Miami "must avoid racial and ethnic profiling" in the Trump era.

"The important point that we have to remember is that we're out of the campaign season and we’re past campaign rhetoric," she says. "We have to do our best to protect our community and our residents from any harm. We are an inclusive county.

"We're going to have to find a way to not jeopardize those who come to this country for freedom," she says, adding that she is, however, understanding that Gimenez was acting to protect the county budget.

Miami-Dade, a county where more than half the population is foreign-born, had never designated itself an official sanctuary area. But as of 2013, the county operated like one: That year, the county commission passed a bill forcing county jails to refuse requests to detain undocumented immigrants indefinitely. (The U.S. Department of Justice named Miami a sanctuary city in a 2016 report.)

It's unclear how much federal funding Miami-Dade could lose by fighting Trump — but the money was certainly a small fraction of the county's total, multibillion-dollar budget. The Department of Justice estimates Miami-Dade receives only $10.7 million annually from the DOJ.

Unlike city governments in places such as San Francisco and New York that passed the measure out of a sense of moral obligation, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the 2013 rule only to save money. The federal government wouldn't reimburse Miami for jail costs, so indefinite stays were expensive. And now the county is rolling over in spectacular fashion. Gimenez's order is likely to follow him for the rest of his career.

Elsewhere in America, sanctuary-city mayors have dug in their heels and steadied themselves for a fight with the Trump administration: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, among many other local leaders, have vowed to defy Trump's sanctuary-city ban. Gimenez — who was a longtime Trump ally before announcing his support for Hillary Clinton last year — was apparently unable to find any sort of backbone to stand up to the Trump administration for more than a single day before rolling over.

Trump's executive order is based on the factually incorrect premise that undocumented immigrants are drivers of crime in U.S. cities. The majority of independent studies of violent crime by undocumented immigrants show that immigrants commit fewer violent crimes than U.S. citizens.

Gimenez, however, could not be bothered to stand up for facts and reason in the Trump Era for more than 24 hours.

Here's the full order:

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.