Miami-Dade, Fl., jails turned over an average of one immigration detainee per day to federal authorities during 2017, a pace set by the county’s controversial decision to comply with President Trump’s crackdown on people being sought for deportation, the Miami Herald reports. Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered county jails to comply with the federal detention requests after Trump took office on Jan. 20 and promised to withhold federal funds from local governments providing “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants. Miami-Dade had previously declined such requests under a policy enacted four years earlier. Gimenez’s directive brought instant praise from Trump himself on Twitter. From elsewhere there were accusations that Miami-Dade was abandoning its tradition as one of the most welcoming cities in the country for immigrants.
Since Gimenez’s Jan. 26 policy change, Miami-Dade jails have turned over 436 people to agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Federal “detainer” requests ask jails to hold suspected immigration offenders for 48 hours after they have been booked on unrelated local charges. A detainer kicks in once the person would otherwise be free to leave the local jail, either through posting bail, being released until trial or after serving a sentence. Charges that landed undocumented people on the federal deportation track include a mix of serious crimes and minor offenses. More than 100 detainees were arrested for violent crimes, from simple battery to kidnapping and attempted murder. A sampling of other offenses: driving without a valid driver’s license, drug possession, loitering; and drinking in public. “It’s made people go back into the shadows,” said Rebeca Sanchez-Roig, an immigration lawyer who sees clients far more fearful of county and city police. “Very often they won’t report a crime or violence, because they’re afraid they will be turned into Immigration. We have endangered communities with this policy.”