Miami-Dade formally dropped its status as a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants Friday, over the impassioned testimony of some residents who shouted “shame on you” after the county commission made the decision final.
The county commissioners voted 9-3 to uphold an order from Mayor Carlos Gimenez that local authorities cooperate with federal immigration officials, in accordance with the law, and refuse to provide arrested illegal immigrants sanctuary. Gimenez issued the order after President Donald Trump warned he would strip so-called “sanctuary cities” of federal funds.
The vote followed hours of testimony from residents of the Florida county, which is the only county in the U.S. where more than half the population is foreign-born, reports Fox News. Most demanded the commission refuse the mayor’s order, but a handful spoke in support of the change.
“I thought this was supposed to be speaking for citizens — not illegal immigrants,” one resident of Miami Beach told the commissioners, while wearing an American flag wrapped around his neck. Another resident added: “Illegal immigrants keep taking the jobs. Simple arithmetic: No jobs, no immigrants.”
One commissioner characterized the vote as “just a financial decision,” saying it has “nothing to do” with immigration. “This is a country that opened arms to everyone, allowed opportunities to everyone,” Rebeca Sosa said before her vote. “I am so sad to see that people are afraid of something that has nothing to do with immigration. This was just a financial decision.”
After the vote, upset residents shouted “shame on you,” and threw pieces of paper and white carnations at the dais before storming out of the chambers, a local outlet reports. “May God have mercy on your soul,” one woman yelled. Others stood and shouted obscenities, according to Fox News.
Miami-Dade is the first locality to reverse its status as a sanctuary city in response to Trump’s administration. Gimenez defended the decision Friday, pointing out most of the immigrants affected are prior offenders, and that local authorities would not be actively seeking out and detaining illegal immigrants.
“Look. I am an immigrant myself,” he said. “I can assure our residents that I will not comply with any executive order that will unfairly put our law-abiding immigrants at risk.”
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