48 Civil Rights Groups and Experts Oppose Gimenez's Sanctuary-City Order

Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has argued his decision to bow to President Donald Trump's bellicose order banning so-called sanctuary cities — which refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to deport undocumented people — was purely financial. Trump threatened to pull federal funding from cities that refuse to comply, and Gimenez says Miami-Dade could lose up to $355 million.

But there's a reason nearly every big-city mayor except Mayor McMilquetoast Gimenez has refused to bend the knee: Trump's threats are largely toothless, and pretty much everyone except the president and his lackeys agree that he can't revoke most federal money without the help of Congress. What's more, the definition of "sanctuary city" is murky.

Who is "everyone"? Try a gigantic coalition of 48 civil rights groups and lawyers, including the Florida chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Lawyers Guild, and 12 University of Miami law professors.

Today that group wrote a letter to the Miami-Dade County Commission, demanding the county rescind Gimenez's hastily issued order.

"The County should not give in to President Trump’s bluster," the letter says. "Although Mayor Gimenez and others may have been misled to believe otherwise, Miami-Dade does not risk the loss of any federal funding under President Trump’s Executive Order because Resolution 1008-13 [which tells the county not to comply with some ICE requests] does not make Miami-Dade a 'sanctuary jurisdiction' as the Executive Order uses that term."

The group warned that, in reality, Gimenez's decision will likely cost Miami more money. Not only is indefinte ICE detention costly, but it also opens the county up to unlawful-detention lawsuits from people thrown haphazardly into Miami-Dade County jails. Likewise, the group says Gimenez is significantly underestimating how much money complying with ICE's detainers will actually cost.

The county, the group says, "does not risk loss of a single cent of federal dollars as a result of President Trump’s Executive Order."

Miami-Dade dipped its toe into "sanctuary" territory in 2013, when the County Commission passed a resolution instructing county jails to refuse to hold them for ICE indefinitely unless the feds footed the bill. Gimenez's controversial order this month simply rescinded that rule.

But the decision has sparked weeks of sustained outrage and activism in South Florida. Protesters, including Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, demonstrated peacefully outside Miami-Dade County Hall the day after Gimenez signed his order, only for the mayor's administration to lock down streets, doors, and windows in a move some say was a First Amendment violation. The next week, a group of civic leaders, including Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Florida's ACLU director, Howard Simon, protested Gimenez again outside County Hall.

Though Gimenez spokesperson Michael Hernadez has stressed that the number of immigrants detained under the new rules would be small, the Miami Herald reported this morning that the county is on track to detain more than 1,000 undocumented people this year, provided the county continues to honor detainer requests at a steady rate.

Gimenez has since responded by doubling down on his support for the decision and by incorrectly smearing the labor activists organizing many of the protests against him.
But it will be difficult to smear the group of 48 civil rights groups and lawyers speaking out against him today. According to a news release from the Southern Poverty Law Center, here's the full coalition against the move:
Numerous legal scholars and advocacy organizations signed the letter, including professors that teach constitutional and immigration law. Groups that signed the letter include ACLU of Florida; American Friends Service Committee; Americans for Immigrant Justice; AILA South Florida Chapter; Advocacy Partners Team, Inc.; Catalyst Miami; Catholic Legal Services; Centro Campesino Farmworker Center; Community Justice Project; Dream Defenders; Emerge USA; FANM/Haitian Women of Miami; Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miami Chapter; Florida Immigrant Coalition; Immigration Law & Litigation Group; Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A.; LatinoJustice PRLDEF; Miami-Dade Progressive Caucus; Miami Workers Center; Mijente; National Day Laborer Organizing Network; National Lawyers Guild, South Florida Chapter; New Florida Majority; Power U Center for Social Change; Rise Up Florida!; SEIU Florida; SLAY Our Vote; South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice; Southern Poverty Law Center; University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic; United Families United We Dream; Veterans Bar Association; We Count!; and We Belong Together. 
Their letter says the biggest concern with Gimenez's decision was not related to money; instead, the groups warn that complying with ICE sends a terrifying signal to Miami's immigrant community and will likely drive a wedge between Miami's neighborhoods and local law enforcement.

"Jurisdictions across the country have adopted an even stronger stance to protect its immigrant residents in the wake of the Executive Order," the letter reads. "Miami-Dade, as a county made up of diverse immigrant communities, should be one of the jurisdictions leading such efforts. For the reasons detailed below, we strongly urge you to continue to protect Miami-Dade residents and families and to continue the practice of refusing to honor immigration detainers pursuant to Resolution 1008-13."

The county will hold a special meeting February 17 to discuss overturning the mayor's executive order. In the meantime, the ACLU has begun a call-in campaign to persuade Miami-Dade commissioners to fight Gimenez's order.

Xavier Suarez, the county's only commissioner who does not belong to a political party, has already called for the order's reversal.
Here's the full letter: