Protest Held Over Miami-Dade Mayor's Immigration Move

Dozens gathered at Miami-Dade County Hall Friday to protest Mayor Carlos Gimenez's decision to cooperate with President Trump's immigration policies.

The protesters held signs and demanded an audience with the mayor, a day after he instructed jail officials to honor all immigration detainer requests.

They chanted "we are here and we're not going anywhere" and "the people united will never be defeated" in Spanish.

"I find it ironic and disgusting that our mayor, being an immigrant himself, would now turn his back against the undocumented and immigrant community which he came up from," protester Saul Aleman said.

The City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado also voiced his opposition to the county's decision. He tweeted, "@MiamiPD job is to protect and serve the residents of @CityofMiami. I am disappointed with the decision of the County." 

Gimenez sent a memo to the county's corrections director Thursday saying jails should hold undocumented immigrants detained by police and turn them over to the Department of Homeland Security when requested.

The memo came a day after President Trump signed an executive order that would strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

"We're taking away any kind of excuse or any kind of reason as to why the federal government could withhold any federal aid to Miami-Dade County, which is millions and millions of dollars," Gimenez said of the decision.

Before Thursday, Miami-Dade only held detainees if federal immigration officials agreed to reimburse the county for the detention costs. The condition set in 2013 put the county in a Department of Justice report that listed sanctuary places that refused to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"That policy was put into place to protect the immigrant community from a federal agency that was out of control, using local law enforcement as a dragnet to deport immigrants and separate families," said activists Lis-Marie Alvarado, of American Friends Service Committee. "This was never just about money. It was about protecting families."

County officials say immigrants won't be targeted by local law enforcement, and insist immigrants have nothing to fear.

"Miami-Dade Police officers will never act as immigration enforcement agents, they never have, nor will they," county spokesman Mike Hernandez said.

Friday's protest got heated when a Trump supporter showed up to speak his mind.

"Laws are not suggestions, people can't come here wanting to change the laws, borders are for a reason," Alex Gonzalez said.

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