Advocates and attorneys, together with detained immigrants, WeCount and Florida Immigrant Coalition filed a class action lawsuit against Miami-Dade County for unlawfully holding immigrants in local jails, a result of their decision to comply with federal ICE detainer requests. On July 23rd, advocates gathered outside the Wilkie Ferguson Federal Courthouse in Miami to announce the new lawsuit. The case seeks an injunction to stop the County’s controversial ICE detainer policy, which has ripped local families apart and struck fear in immigrant communities. Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voluntarily caved to Donald Trump’s threats on the issue over a year ago, becoming the first major metro area to do so. The policy has resulted in the unlawful detention of more than a thousand local residents by local authorities in behalf of ICE, as well as ongoing protests, and enormous pushback from the community.
Lawyers from Community Justice Project, the University of Miami School of Law Immigration Clinic and a pro bono team from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, brought the suit on behalf of the immigrant organizations and two individuals illegally re-arrested on civil immigration charges by Miami-Dade County. Both individual plaintiffs were accused of driving without a license.
Plaintiff C.F.C., a member of WeCount! and a local agricultural business owner, has now spent over sixty-five days separated from her eight children and has missed the birth of her grandchild. While shopping for groceries for a Mother’s Day meal with her five-year-old child and then-pregnant daughter, C.F.C. was in a minor accident in the parking lot. The individuals in the other car jumped out of the vehicle and became aggressive, yelling at C.F.C., telling her to “go back to Mexico!” Homestead Police officers arrived and arrested C.F.C. at the scene for driving without a license. On May 13, 2018, C.F.C posted bond and should have been released. However, instead of releasing her, Defendants unlawfully re-arrested her pursuant to an ICE detainer. After C.F.C.’s unlawful arrest by Defendants, C.F.C. was detained by ICE.
Plaintiff S.C.C. is the owner of a local landscaping company that employed approximately one dozen workers before he was forced to shut down due to the County’s actions. He was arrested on charges stemming from an inability to renew his driver’s license after changes to Florida law and has languished in local custody for over forty days. Last Monday, a judge set his bond at $2. S.C.C. posted his bond, but rather than being released, he was re-arrested by the county in violation of the US Constitution and Florida law.
“We have three children — two of them are just six and three years old,” said Wilson M., whose wife is currently in ICE detention after being charged with driving without a license. “They ask about their mother all day long and are suffering great psychological trauma from being away from her. What hurts me the most is to think she never hurt anyone, yet they handcuffed and took her away as if she were a criminal.”
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