Miami-Dade County is no longer holding people in its jail for requests from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement unless ICE reimburses the county and the inmate is a convicted felon or facing a non-bondable offense.
The new policy went into effect on Jan. 1 thanks to a resolution passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission last month, according to a letter sent to ICE from Corrections Department Director Timothy Ryan.
"We are not going to release people we regard as dangerous, but we are not going to continue to keep people in detention who are in detention, you know for 24 hours, because they did not have their driver's license," said immigration lawyer Ira Kurzban.
According to the resolution, the county must have a written agreement that the federal government will reimburse the county for the costs of detaining the inmate, which Kurzban says costs the county hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
"Until such time that a written agreement is executed, the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department cannot honor Immigration Detainer - Notice of Action, or similar detainers after January 1, 2014, and that all persons having such detainers will be releaed forthwith with no notification to your offices," the letter reads.
The new policy has been praised by immigration advocates.
"The new detainer policy is a significant step toward restoring the balance between enforcement and individual liberty," Miami immigration attorney Ira Kurzban said in a statement. "Mayor Gimenez, Commissioner Monestime, Commissioner Heyman, and all Miami-Dade County Commissioners deserve credit and praise for their bold positive decision."