Miami-Dade was the county I entered at the start of my life in the US. I attended high school as an undocumented immigrant for my first few months. If my family did not have the benefit of legalization after entry, I would have been a DACA student. Miami was also the first to react to the president’s executive order against Sanctuary Cities.
Within hours of the executive order to prevent Homeland Security from funding any city designated as “sanctuaries”, Mayor Carlos Gimenez reacted with his own executive order: Miami Dade federal jails were to comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants.
Gimenez feared jeopardizing $355 million in funding over what is claimed as a $52,000 issue: the cost of holding undocumented persons until the feds can pick them up.
Back in 2013, Miami Dade had refused to detain these persons indefinitely without full reimbursement from Homeland Security. It was a money thing. But, the county was slapped with the designation of a “sanctuary county” by the Justice Department as a result. Miami has been trying to rectify the designation since last year.
What $52,000 Really Amounts To
Though I understand Mayor Gimenez felt the pressure to protect Miami Dade’s cash flow, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t feel the need, nor did New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. Both spoke out firmly against any compromise to protecting all people, regardless of where they came from.
You should also know this executive order will give special assistance to victims of crimes committed by illegal persons, and force police to release information on undocumented immigrants caught in any crime.
So again, with sweepingly broad strokes we have put a big notch in the belt of institutionalized racism. The practice has been to first, without justification, tell people who we think they are. Then we put laws into place that amplify and fulfill our world view.
This policy breeds fear. The fear of being caught will keep children from school, families from work, and victims from reporting crimes. Our police will again become pseudo-immigration enforcement officers.
And, in this light, the vast majority of law abiding families like mine will shrink into the shadows, further solidifying the belief that undocumented immigrants are rapists and thieves. That’s what $52,000 really amounts to.
I am sad that my city was the first to chime in. Our children are the ones who will ultimately suffer. And, what if the next threat is loss of Department of Education funding if school districts don’t turn over information on undocumented families? How will we react then? I guess I should be glad I’m no longer DACA in my county’s new normal.