Protesters rally against Mayor Gimenez’s immigration policy in Downtown Miami
Protesters rallied outside the office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Tuesday evening, days after he ordered county officials to comply with President Trump’s strict immigration plans.
Gimenez signed the order, Thursday, ordering the director of his corrections department to begin honoring all requests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigration suspects in Miami-Dade jails.
Several groups, like the Miami Fights Back Coalition, gathered outside the Stephen P. Clark Center, located on the corner of Northeast First Street and Northeast First Avenue, beginning at around 4 p.m.
“What makes us great is that we are a country of immigrants. What makes Miami who we are is that we are a county of immigrants,” said one protester.
Julio Calderon, a student at Florida International University, took to the podium and spoke about his personal fears; he described himself as an undocumented immigrant.
“I have never been afraid to be out here for my life,” Calderon said.
He said he’s planning to graduate with a degree in economics within a year. Calderon said he worries that he might be deported if he ever has to deal with police.
“This is affecting me in a real way, and this is personal for me,” he said.
Joe Garcia, a former U.S. representative from Florida, said Gimenez, born in Cuba, turned his back on immigrants. “From the very origins of this community, people came here to find refuge,” Garcia said.
Tuesday evening, Pembroke Pines Commissioner Jay Schwartz held a Human Rights Rally at Pembroke Pines City Hall to speak out against Trump’s actions.
Trump’s order threatened to end federal funding of ‘sanctuary cities’ that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The order affects how long immigrant prisoners are kept in jail for federal reasons.
“It concerns prisoners that are in the custody of Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said, “that are later identified by the federal government as being illegal and somehow in their system, and they want us to detain them for 48 hours max.”
“Carlos Gimenez is a friend of mine,” Garcia said, “But what Gimenez is, first and foremost, is a refugee.”
The executive order to comply with the current administration came as Trump signed another executive order, banning all travel from seven Middle Eastern countries.
In light of these recent executive orders on immigration, immigrant families joined with Miami-Dade businesses, residents, elected officials and community leaders, Tuesday evening, in presenting a list of demands to Gimenez.
On Monday afternoon, several Florida universities responded to the travel ban with protests, rallies and discussions.
As students at the University of South Florida in Tampa protested the ban, the University of Miami School of Law held a teach-in to discuss the legal implications of the order. Yale Law professor Muneer Ahmad spoke about filing a nationwide class action lawsuit challenging Trump’s ban.
“This is a rapidly unfolding story about law, about lawyering and about social movements,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad also took questions from the students. “I think there is a lot of worry and anxiety about the moment that we are in,” Ahmad said, “they were worried about themselves, about their family members, about people in their community.”
In hopes of reassuring international students in South Florida, the University of Miami and Florida International University released statements urging their students to embrace diversity and to have no fear.
University of Miami President Julio Frenk released a statement, which said in part, “I encourage each one of you to express to your fellow ‘Canes that they are welcome at our shared home, the University of Miami.”
He also warned students who might be affected by the ban to stay in the country.
Florida International University also released a statement reading, “As a community, we must come together to support those among us who may be feeling particularly vulnerable during this uncertain time.”
Feras Ahmed, a U.S. citizen whose parents are Pakistani immigrants, said he is thankful his parents weren’t denied entry to America.
“It’s harmful and it’s shameful,” Ahmed said, “so, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to work as hard as you need to work to come here and then have the door shut in your face.”
Also on Monday afternoon, local politicians denounced the president’s temporary travel ban at an anti-Trump protest at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Lawmakers said President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional.
“I will not be silent. I will not be quiet. I will make sure to use every ounce of my energy and every inch of my authority that my office grants me standing with my colleagues, standing with leaders in this community to say that we will not go back,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “We will not be a country that doesn’t stand up for our values, for freedom and for democracy.”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said Trump should have had a better plan. “I don’t know what the thinking is,” she said. “How many terrorist acts have been committed by people from those countries against the United States? Zero.”