Activists Barred From Giving Water to Immigrants at Miami-Area ICE Facility

Activists Barred From Giving Water to Immigrants at Miami-Area ICE Facility
Screencap via Tomas Kennedy
Miami is utterly sweltering today. Earlier this morning, WeatherUnderground reported that considering the humidity, the temperature felt like 115 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Yet tons of immigrants are stuck in the heat this week at South Florida's main Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Miramar, where ICE keeps immigrants waiting outdoors in what is essentially a caged pen for hours at a time.

The conditions are degrading enough that activists regularly show up to aid immigrants with special needs and to pass out water and snacks to people waiting in the lines. But during what has been a historic and outright dangerous heat wave across Florida, activists have filmed Homeland Security agents stating that the advocates are no longer allowed to give water to anyone waiting in line at the facility.

In the first clip posted yesterday, a DHS cop — who himself is drinking a cold bottle of water — shouts at the activists and tells them they're not allowed to walk near immigrants waiting in line at the publicly owned facility. One activist tells the officer they were allowed to hand out water the previous week, and the cop responds by shouting.

"I wasn't there last week, so I didn't tell you anything!" he yells.
Today did not appear to go any better. In a second clip published this afternoon, activists filmed a second guard telling them they can't hand out water bottles. In the clip, the advocates appear visibly hot and sweaty. Many of their faces are red.

"What is the big deal? Why can't we just pass out waters?" local activist Tomas Kennedy asks. "I mean yesterday, one of the DHS guys was telling us not to pass out waters while he was drinking water himself. He had a bottle of water. It's obviously hot. The DHS officer was thirsty. Why can't we just go and pass out waters to these poor people?"

"Because you can't go pass the water," the cop responds flatly. Seconds later, he adds, "Once you get past that fence line, they [Homeland Security] decide what happens there."
New Times has repeatedly chronicled poor conditions at the Miramar ICE facility. Last year, immigrants routinely complained they were forced to line up in the predawn hours and stand virtually all day without shelter or access to restrooms and water fountains. (ICE later claimed immigrants were allowed to use restrooms inside.) Parking is inadequate, but videos also show that tow trucks regularly circle the lot to pick up cars parked illegally. Worst of all, activists say ICE conducts "silent raids" at the facility — immigrants arrive for standard, scheduled check-ins but sometimes are detained inside the building and deported without warning.

Since immigrant rights groups have lodged their complaints, ICE has added additional tents for people waiting in line. But images from the facility also show that the lines have swelled to gargantuan proportions. In March, an ICE spokesperson told New Times this was somehow due to the influx of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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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.