Videos Show Giant Crowds of Immigrants Lined Up Outside Miami-Area ICE Office

Videos Show Giant Crowds of Immigrants Lined Up Outside Miami-Area ICE Office
Maria Asuncion Bilbao / Facebook
Conditions at Miami's major Immigration and Customs Enforcement office appear to be terrible. Immigrant-rights groups have complained about lengthy waits and harassment for years. People are often forced to arrive before dawn and stand in line for a full day. Sometimes they enter the facility and are detained.

Immigrant-rights activists often sit outside the facility, which is located just off Miramar Parkway near I-75, to provide food, water, and support to those standing in the grueling check-in line. Yesterday, those activists posted a series of harrowing images that show lines seemingly out of control. Barricades fenced people in like sardines, in many cases with no access to shade. Activists compared the gated lines to those used for farm animals. They said there were only two functioning toilets for the crowd of hundreds.

On a video, one activist can be heard asking people how long they'd been standing there. Some said they began lining up at 5 a.m.; others predicted they'd be there "all day."
New Times previously reported that since there appear to be too few parking spots for those lined up at the ICE office, someone had hired tow truck operators to circle the lot and haul away any cars parked illegally. ICE spokespeople denied calling the trucks.

The City of Miramar has previously scolded ICE and implored the agency to improve conditions at the property. Since then, it appears ICE has installed a few tents to block the sun, but those tents clearly did not cover the entire throng of people yesterday.

Reached via email, an ICE spokesperson in Miami pointed to a recent national press release from ICE, which claimed that apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border have reached levels not seen since 2007. Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen called the issue an "emergency," though border crossings are still far below 1990s levels.

Florida doesn't share a land border with any other nation. Even still, ICE arrests spiked in 2018. Earlier this week, New Times reported that ICE's Miami "area of responsibility" saw the nation's largest proportional spike in immigrant arrests — the second year in a row this was true.
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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.