Not 24 hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez directed jailers to hold people in custody whenever federal immigration authorities requested, even if the feds fail to establish probable cause to get a warrant from a judge.
But the president’s threat to defund Miami-Dade County never really placed the county’s funding in peril. Under our Constitution, Congress — not the president — holds the “power of the purse.”
Further, the 10th Amendment prohibits the federal government from “commandeering” state and local officials to enforce immigration laws.
Local officials should follow the law, specifically, the Constitution, which bars arrest without probable cause and a warrant issued by a judge. The federal government cannot require local officials to violate the Constitution.
Courts around the country have held that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures limits holding people in jail beyond the time when they would otherwise be released based on just the request (a “detainer”) by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
When local police have honored detainer requests, they have been sued and have paid hefty settlements. In caving in to Trump’s executive order, the mayor has exposed the county to the likelihood of lawsuits and serious monetary damages.
Miami-Dade County is a community of immigrants. More than 50 percent of our residents are foreign-born. The mayor should stand with courageous mayors across the country who are refusing to buckle under the Trump administration’s threat to unconstitutionally withhold federal funds.
Howard L. Simon, executive director and Christopher Brochyus, president, Greater Miami Chapter,
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Miami