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DOJ: Miami No Longer A 'Sanctuary City'

| by Robert Fowler

The Trump administration's Department of Justice has deemed the city of Miami to be in compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The Florida city was previously deemed a so-called "sanctuary city," putting it at risk of losing federal grants.

On Aug. 4, Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson sent a letter to Miami-Dade County, Florida. The DOJ had deemed Miami to be in full compliance with ICE agents, sparing the jurisdiction a withholding of federal grants from the Trump administration, the Miami Herald reports.

On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that called on the DOJ to withhold federal grants from jurisdictions that his administration believed practiced sanctuary policies. These jurisdictions do not compel their local law enforcement to fully accommodate ICE requests to indefinitely detain immigrants in the country illegally for deportation.

On Jan. 26, Republican Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he would compel his city jails to comply with ICE detention requests of immigrants. Miami jails would begin to hold arrestees who are in the country illegally for up to two days so ICE agents could seize and deport them. County jails will still not hold the detainees indefinitely.

"I want to make sure we don't put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government ... It doesn't mean that we're going to be arresting more people," Gimenez said. "It doesn't mean that we're going to be enforcing any immigration laws."

On Feb. 27, the Miami-Dade Commission made Gimenez's order official by a vote of 9 to 3. The policy shift drew fierce opposition from some city residents.

"I think we are preying on people that are helpless and the way we are going about this is just really wrong and I'm embarrassed,"  Miami resident Nicole Wagner told WFOR-TV after the vote.

"It unconscionable that the mayor of Miami-Dade County would turn his back on immigrants because he lacks the spine to stand up to Donald Trump," said Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Juan Cuba.

On April 24, the DOJ sent out letters to the state of California and seven cities warning them they would lose federal grants if they did not compel local law enforcement to fully comply with ICE requests.

Miami was among the cities with the lowest amount of funding to lose, with a federal grant of roughly $480,000 on the chopping block. Meanwhile, New York City was at risk of losing a $4.3 million grant for law enforcement while California could potentially lose $18 million, according to Time.

Gimenez's office responded by citing that Miami jails were now obliging ICE requests to hold immigrants in the country illegally for up to 48 hours. Hanson's letter alerted the mayor's office that the DOJ no longer considered Miami-Dade to be a "sanctuary" jurisdiction.

Michael Hernandez, Gimenez's communications director, took to Twitter to share the letter.

"Based on the materials you have provided, we found no evidence that Miami Dade County is currently out of compliance with section 1373," Hanson wrote. "As a reminder, complying with section 1373 is an ongoing requirement that the Office of Justice Programs will continue to honor."

Hernandez said the mayor's office was relieved but wanted the Trump administration to formally remove Miami-Dade from the DOJ list of so-called "sanctuary cities."

"We'd like to have formal notification that we are no longer a sanctuary community," Hernandez said. "That request is being made."

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