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Carlos Gimenez will be grilled on sanctuary cities decision

  • SumoMe

UPDATE: After the posting of this Thursday morning, the commission chairman called for a special meeting on Feb. 17. How they are going to get through the Feb. 7 meeting without talking about this is still a mystery.

There’s no question that Miami-Dade Commissioners will discuss the mayor’s directive last week togimenezshrugs honor detention requests for illegal immigrants in county jails. The only question is when.

It may not be on Tuesday’s agenda — yet. But it can’t be ignored.

Not just because more than 300 county residents protested the decision Tuesday at County Hall. Not just because more than a dozen community groups and leaders have denounced the move. Not just because Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava asked Mayor Carlos Gimenez Monday to answer a series of questions about the impact and consequences of this cave-in to a legally questionable federal threat to withhold millions in funding. Not just becasue she wants her colleagues to join other U.S. cities challenging the legality of the president’s executive order.

Read related story: Carlos Gimenez betrays the community for Donald Trump

No. They have to talk about this because the mayor’s directive flies in the face of a 2013 resolution in which commissioners instructed him to do just the opposite. There is already a growing discontent among commissioners about what happened and how it happened. Some don’t want to send the message that the strong mayor can do whatever he wants for the next four years.

They can do several things. They can propose a resolution to just undo or rescind the resolution from 2013, which Sally Heymanwould be a show of support for the mayor’s actions and is rumored to be what Commissioner Sally Heyman has in mind. They can also direct the county attorney’s office to challenge the federal order, which is how Levine Cava leans. Neither one had presented a discussion item or legislation for Tuesday’s meeting, but either could. Gimenez could also put it on as a discussion item from the mayor’s office.

What won’t happen, one commission aide said, is nothing. “Otherwise, that’s going to be the biggest elephant in the chambers on Tuesday.”

Commissioner Xavier Suarez said he did not think that that Gimenez intended to violate the resolution but that he, at least, had some questions about the details. “I think it’s time for a clarification, whether it comes from the mayor’s office or it comes from us,” X told Ladra Wednesday.

The mayor’s memo to Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Daniel Junior, even though it’s only three paragraphs long, indicates that even Gimenez knew he’d have to get some kind of commission approval (note the last sentence).

“Yesterday, January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

In light of the provisions of the Executive Order, I direct you and your staff to honor all immigration detainer requests receive from the Department of Homeland Security.

Miami-Dade County complies with federal law and intends to fully cooperate with the federal government. I will partner with the Board of County Commissioners to address any issues necessary to achieve this end.” 

Partner with the Board of County Commissioners, indeed. Some commissioners, staffers and other County Hall insiders say he should have waited and partnered with commissioners to address the issue before jumping to GimenezprotestTrump’s drumbeat within 24 hours, becoming the first and so far only mayor of a major U.S. city to buckle.

Que verguenza.

But beyond that, some go so far as to say the mayor may have abused his power by acting alone without calling for the rescinding of the resolution by the whole commission. It’s not like he didn’t have time.

Gimenez might say, whenever he is called upon to answer to commissioners, that he used his power as mayor to make this “emergency” decision. But there is no evidence that there was an emergency here. There was no deadline. Other cities have challenged the federal government’s authority to withhold funds while legal experts point to supreme court precedents that give states and municipalities the upper hand and also limit the conditions the government to withhold funds. There is no logical reason that Gimenez could not have waited to make it a mayor’s item on the Feb. 7 meeting.

Read related story: Levine Cava questions Gimenez on sanctuary about-face

Our own county attorney’s office told commissioners in 2013 that the county was complying with the Secure Communities requirements by sharing information — addresses, phone numbers, photographs — with ICE and the detention2Department of Homeland Security. We have never stopped doing that since 2009. 

In 2013, commissioners adopted a new policy to release non-violent offenders who were also illegal immigrants unless the federal government covered the costs of prolongued incarceration and instructed the mayor to implement the policy. They did so mostly to save money. It was budget crunch time and they were told to look for extra funds to keep some of the programs that Gimenez wanted to cut in a drastic year after his 2012 re-election.

In a story published that year by the Miami Herald, Heyman said it wasn’t a purely financial decision.

“Not only is it about saving money. It’s about saving people,” she was quoted as saying.

What a difference three years makes, huh? 

Of coure, the 2013 resolution that halted the detentions is all about the costs. It states that 3,262 detainer requests were honored in 2011 and 2,499 were honored in 2012, at a cost of a little over $1 million and $667,000, respectively. Of those, 57% were inmates not charged with felonies in 2011 and 61% were in 2012. These are people that were held for 48 hours after they were bonded out or released at arraignment.

They also had the green light from then County Attorney Roger Cuevas, who had told them in July that “compliance with ICE detainer requests is voluntary and not mandated by federal law or regulations.” Basically, the detainers or 48-hour “hold requests” are just that, requests. Cuevas’ analysis included wording from federal law and forms that showed the word “request” used repeatedly. He told commissioners that if they decided to hold detainees detentionfor the 48 hours, there was no legal obligation for the federal government to reimburse costs.

Cuevas also attached a letter from ICE Assistant Director David Venturella in which he answers this direct question: “Is it ICE’s position that localities are required to hold individuals pursuant to Form I-247 or are detainers merely requests with which a county could legally decline to comply?” The response: “ICE views the immigration detainer as a request that a law enforcement agency maintain custody of an alien who may otherwise be released for up to 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). This provides ICE time to assume custody of the alien.” 

All of this can be found in the minutes of the December 3, 2013 meeting.

But the new policy did still provide for the detention of illegal immigrants when they had been either previously convicted of a forcible felony or charged with a non-bondable offense, such as murder. This is according to a memo from former Corrections and Rehabilitation Department Director Timothy Ryan to the Department of Homeland Security. So, we were still turning over the most violent offenders. Now, we’re just turning over the minor offenders, too, perhaps even people who are arrested for traffic violations.

Read related story: Protesters have demands of Carlos Gimenez on sanctuary

And everyone expects the Trump administration’s detainer requests to increase so we may soon be turning over even more of them.

There’s really only one reason why Gimenez would have jumped the gun and reached over the commission’s head to Gimenezdo something that law enforcement experts say damages community policing at a time when police resources are low and street shootings are at a high. It is to please the president so that his son, CJ Gimenez, could get more and friendlier access for his new federal lobbying gig. Ladra can’t think of any other reason why he would reverse a county commission policy within 24 hours with a directive that is going to become his legacy — the first thing that comes up on him now for all history in every story and Wikipedia: “Carlos Gimenez, the immigrant South Florida elected who was the first and only mayor who acquiesced to Donald Trump’s threats against sanctuary cities…”

But he will soon have to explain for himself. Activists who have led a wave of public outcry that has resulted in two protests so far and whispers of a possible recall, promise to attend Tuesday’s meeting to demand answers.

So if commissioners don’t address the elephant in the room, the public will. 

5 Responses to Carlos Gimenez will be grilled on sanctuary cities decision

  1. Barry J White Reply

    February 2, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Wonder if any of the Commissioners will mention blackmail in the discussion.
    Or the potential impact on trade and tourism for Miami-Dade from Gimenez’s edict. So now the President and Mayor rule by fiat? Caudillsmo.

  2. Miami-Dade County Sucks Reply

    February 2, 2017 at 10:05 am

    300 people protesting out almost 3,000,000 in the county. Wow! people really give a crap about this issue.

    • Ladra Reply

      February 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Meanwhile, only one person showed up to support the mayor’s position at the protest at County Hall on Friday. None showed up at the protest Tuesday, that I know of.

      Love, Ladra

  3. Proud american Reply

    February 3, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Why show up in support? To be physically abused as at Berkeley, like the girl that was pepper sprayed? The left has completely lost touch with reality. When did it become okey to assault people and destroy property, call for military coupes as the Hollywood left (Sarah Silverman…..) when you lose the election. These ultra left Hollywood elitist are the same ones living behind gated walls with security. It’s time to move on people.

  4. No Fan Reply

    February 4, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Clearly Cava is burnishing her street creds having firmly nailed down her seat at the extreme left side of the dais. Not that she isn’t pro illegal immigration (“undocumented immigration in lefty speak) But she’s very smart woman, scaling for greater heights when the tide turns in 2018.

    But it’s ironic how the left bemoan the BCC’s traditionally sketchy friends and family plan, sidestepping rules, bending protocols and ignoring county, state and federal laws when it’s time to award a bid, grant a variance or appoint a friend to a county job.

    Now the shoe is on the other (wet) foot… it’s time to end this equally sketchy “we’ll-look-the-other-way-get-of-jail-free card”, which by the way, is a HUGE issue with democratic leaning immigrant voters (translation: pandering).

    …and they called Trump supporters a basket of deplorables? Now we have a basket of babies, look who is literally rioting in the streets..

    The privileged little lefties didn’t carry their pant suit diva into the WH so they are going to cry, kick, scream, shout, block legislation and traffic until they get their way.

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