We Fast To Demand Justice for Immigrants in Miami-Dade County

Last week, raids and sweeps detained hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least seven states. After raiding homes and workplaces in areas such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, North Carolina and South Carolina, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen attempted to downplay these actions by saying that they were merely routine.

Here in Miami-Dade County, the immigrant community is feeling the pressure brought on by the anti-immigrant climate fomented by the Trump administration. In light of Donald Trump’s threat to cut hundreds of millions of federal dollars from cities who refuse to force local police to enforce immigration law, Miami-Dade County became the first jurisdiction to announce it will change its immigration policy and comply with the order.

Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are undocumented. This is not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense. While other cities such as New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and more have taken a firm stance against the Trump Administration overreach of federal power, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez capitulated hours after the Trump executive order was signed.

It is a shame that Carlos Gimenez didn’t choose to stand on principle and protect immigrant families in this diverse and multicultural city. Even though the county has faced intense public and media criticism, as well as surrounding municipalities such as Broward and Miami Beach coming out against him, Carlos Gimenez remains unmoved.

A special hearing has been called which will take place on Friday, February 17th with the purpose of ratifying the Mayor’s decision. In light of what is at stake for our immigrant families and our community, we have decided to undertake a five day fast to bring attention to the injustice being committed in Miami-Dade County.

When profit is put over people, society has lost its moral compass. Families are the center of our society and the nucleus of our culture, we should strive to create a nourishing space for them, not break them apart.

The story of Guadalupe Garcia comes to mind when one reflects on the threats that immigrant families currently face. Guadalupe is a mother of two United States born kids and lived here for twenty two years. She was victim of a workplace raid under infamous anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio but was allowed to appeal her case as long as she checked in with immigration authorities when required.

Unfortunately Guadalupe was deported after she went to her check in under the new Trump administration. Her son watched as she was driven away in an ICE van amidst protest from the community.

Is this what we want to see happen in our communities? Is the Miami-Dade County Commission willing to accept this if they decide to go along with the mayor’s decision?

Through this hundred hour fast, we have experienced discomfort but it pales in comparison to the pain and fear that immigrants’ families face every day.

We hope that the Miami-Dade County commissioners reflect on this and make the right decision.

Community members fasting in Miami-Dade County for immigrant justice.