Statement from Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez regarding changes to federal immigration laws
The recent changes to federal immigration policy have become a divisive issue, not just in Miami-Dade County, but also across the country. I understand the fear, confusion, and anger many residents are expressing, and I want to re-iterate my position, explain the reasoning behind my decision to issue an Executive Order on Thursday, January 26, and once again clarify any misconceptions our residents may have.
When I was first elected Mayor in 2011, I promised that every decision that I made would be in the best interest of all Miamians. Like many in our community, I am an immigrant. My family came from Cuba when I was only six years old. My sister and I were raised in Miami and through the hard work of our parents, we were provided with the opportunity to receive good educations, earn honest livings and eventually raise families of our own. I have lived the immigrant experience and understand the struggles that they face.
The Executive Order I signed directing the Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department to comply with federal immigration policy does not change that. Communities labeled as sanctuaries by the federal government stand to lose federal funding. In this fiscal year alone, Miami-Dade County received approximately $355 million in federal funding that is helping to fund critical programs in our public housing, transportation and police departments.
Miami-Dade County has never considered itself a sanctuary community, and that is why we have worked with federal officials to clear us of that designation since we were first notified in May 2016. Jeopardizing hundreds of millions of federal dollars would be irresponsible.
It is also important for our residents to understand that this order will not result in widespread and indefinite detentions. In 2016, out of approximately 80,000 who were arrested in Miami-Dade County, just 174 were processed. My Executive Order will require Miami-Dade Corrections to continue to honor federal Immigration requests to detain someone who was already in County custody for allegedly violating local laws for a maximum of 48 hours. This is the same policy Miami-Dade had before December 2013.
It is also important to note that my Executive Order would not result in Miami-Dade police officers enforcing federal immigration laws. Regardless of policy changes at the federal level, Miami-Dade police officers will remain focused on protecting and serving our residents by enforcing local laws. Residents should continue to report criminal activity and cooperate with Miami-Dade police officers. They are here to protect and serve.
Ultimately, much of the frustration our community and others around the country are expressing is due to the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. I continue to support common sense reform of our immigration system and am hopeful that it can be done in the near future.