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Miami-Dade Mayor Orders Jails To Comply With Trump Immigration Actions

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: I'm Greg Allen in Miami. This was the scene outside the government building in Miami-Dade County today.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hey, Gimenez, shame on you. You are an immigrant, too.

ALLEN: More than a hundred immigration activists gathered outside to deliver a message to Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Gimenez, who arrived from Cuba in 1960, yesterday reversed a long-standing county policy. He instructed county officials to begin honoring all requests from federal authorities to detain inmates on immigration charges.

In the past, Miami-Dade County refused to hold inmates with detention orders because the federal government wouldn't guarantee reimbursement. Here's Gimenez in an interview with Miami's CBS4.


CARLOS GIMENEZ: Now, today my order says, don't worry about the guarantee. If the federal government wants us to hold an individual immigration - you know, illegal immigrant, et cetera, we will hold them for the federal government.

ALLEN: Gimenez's order last night brought an immediate reaction from President Trump. In a tweet yesterday evening, Trump said, Miami-Dade mayor dropped sanctuary policy - right decision, strong - with an exclamation mark.

That label - sanctuary community - is one Gimenez has long resisted. Last year after the Justice Department included the county on a list of sanctuary communities, Gimenez asked them to review that designation. He says Miami-Dade's policy was put in place for economic reasons. Facing the potential loss of millions of dollars in federal funds, Gimenez said, now that policy no longer makes sense. Gimenez was out of town today. At Miami-Dade's county administration building, protesters banged on the doors after staff locked them out.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hey, Gimenez, shame on you. You are an immigrant, too.

ALLEN: One of the organizers, Jonathan Fried with We Count, said this action undermines the tenuous relationship police have with Miami's large immigrant community both documented and undocumented. And he says Miami-Dade's mayor is signing on to an executive order rejected by other big-city mayors, one Fried worries that will lead to mass deportation.

JONATHAN FRIED: We are outraged that Chicago, New York and Boston mayors, for example, have done the right thing and at the first hint of a threat of taking away federal funds from the county, he gives up.

ALLEN: For protesters like 20-year-old Diego Ramirez (ph), Gimenez's decision is personal. Ramirez is an immigrant here illegally from Mexico but, at least for now, is covered by DACA, an Obama executive action that allows young immigrants without papers to stay in the country temporarily. Trump promised during the campaign to undo it. Ramirez is also worried about Trump's promise to triple the number of federal immigration agents.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Shame on you. Shame on you.

DIEGO RAMIREZ: Deportation has continuously going on a daily base. And now by tripling the agents, it will be more - it will be triple the amount of deportation. So therefore, we all will be affected by this order.

ALLEN: Gimenez says his order only affects inmates already in custody on other charges. He says Miami-Dade's police won't be enforcing immigration laws or asking people for their papers. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.