Protesters erupt at downtown government center in Miami
The current and former mayors of the city of Miami — a Republican and a Democrat, respectively — publicly chided Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for directing county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests following President Donald Trump’s crackdown on “sanctuary” jurisdictions for immigrants in the country illegally.
Mayor Tomás Regalado tweeted Friday night that he’s “disappointed” by Gimenez’s Thursday decision. Regalado also seemed to indicate city cops have no interest in acting as immigration deputies — something Gimenez insists the county won’t be doing either, even as it subsidizes federal detentions. The city doesn’t manage any jails of its own.
“@MiamiPD job is to protect and serve the residents of the @CityofMiami,” Regalado wrote. “I am disappointed with the decision of the County.”
Several Twitter users, perhaps unaware that the county and city are separate jurisdictions, had apparently confused Regalado with Gimenez, and Regalado responded to some of them as well.
“I am an immigrant,” Regalado wrote to one person. “The City of Miami will not comply. However Miami Dade County is a whole different government.”
Though both Republicans, Regalado and Gimenez have been at odds politically for decades, most recently when Regalado’s daughter ran last year against Gimenez. When big-city mayors urged then-President-elect Trump last month to protect “DREAMers,” immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, Regalado was quick to offer his support. Gimenez took longer to say he backed President Barack Obama’s program to protect DREAMers from deportation.
Separately, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wrote in a pointed Miami Herald op-ed published Saturday that Gimenez, who is his friend, acted too hastily, without seeking enough legal guidance about Trump’s executive order.
“While other mayors have taken an approach that protects their communities, Mayor Gimenez has rushed into action to please the president, betraying our community’s long history of welcoming immigrants,” wrote Diaz, a lawyer.
He argued that Miami-Dade, which notifies the feds of all of the people it arrests and is willing to detain them as long as Immigration and Customs Enforcement defrays the expense, already complied with Trump’s order.
“When the president tells cities to obey him or face his wrath, it is the mayor’s duty to at least question him,” Diaz wrote. “Democracy is not the president saying jump, and Mayor Gimenez asking how high.”
Both Diaz and Regalado weighed in after angry protesters demonstrated outside County Hall on Friday, and deluged Gimenez’s office with phone calls and emails opposing his directive.
All three mayors — Diaz, Gimenez and Regalado — were born in Cuba.
Reactions from other local politicians requested by the Herald were either muted or generally divided along party lines.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, praised Gimenez for making “the right decision.” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, called unfunded mandates — like requiring municipalities to detain inmates for longer without paying for it — “an evasion of responsibility by the federal government” but said local governments are now on notice and she supports withholding funds from them if they “choose to ignore federal law.” U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also a Miami Republican, warned Trump’s policy “focuses on a symptom, not one of the root causes of our flawed immigration system, and has the potential of undermining the work of law enforcement officials investigating serious crimes in urban areas.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat; U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, did not respond to requests for comment.
Two Republicans on the county commission, Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Joe Martinez, sided with Gimenez. Two Democrats, Daniella Levine Cava and Jean Monestime, questioned — but only mildly — Gimenez’s quick decision. Other commissioners did not respond.
The biggest denunciation came from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, whose Broward County-based district dips into northeast Miami-Dade.
“The only way to deal with a bully is to confront him,” she said in a statement. “We need to stand with local officials who should oppose Donald Trump’s intimidating executive order that threatens to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities and counties. This ham-fisted approach will only spread mass anxiety into communities throughout Florida and the country, and split up countless families who are our friends, coworkers and neighbors.”
Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.