Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent a letter to the chairman and other members of the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners on August 5, informing the officials that he had received a letter from the Justice Department the previous day notifying him that “the County is in compliance, and we are eligible for FY 2016 Byrne JAG grant funding … in the amount of $481,347.”
Gimenez said the funding would be used by the Miami-Dade Police Department to enhance MDPD’s intelligence gathering and police operations with purchases of technology and specialized equipment.
The DOJ’s approval of Miami-Dade’s status was a direct result of Gimenez’ policy change last January to honor any detainer requests received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The commission voted in February to support Gimenez’ policy, which ended Miami-Dade’s four years as a sanctuary city.
A federal court has ruled that, when it comes to funds provided to cities under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, the Trump administration has the power to withhold those funds from local jurisdictions that aren’t following the Justice Department’s guidelines.
Michael Hernández, Gimenez’ communications director, said Miami-Dade also wants the Trump administration to declare that Miami-Dade no longer belongs on the “sanctuary” list published by the Obama administration. “We’d like to have formal notification that we are no longer a sanctuary community,” he said. “That request is being made.”
Even though Miami-Dade stopped being a sanctuary city in January, the city/county received a warning letter from the Justice Department in April threatening to cancel a federal grant that the county receives annually. The misunderstanding occurred because Miami-Dade had been identified as a sanctuary city under the Obama administration and the Trump DOJ was unaware of the policy change.
In an article posted on February 13 by The New American, journalist Bob Adelmann observed that, in response to President Trump’s January 25 executive order to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, a number of cities that formerly considered themselves as “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants were reversing their policies. Among the jurisdictions doing so were Miami-Dade, Florida; Dayton, Ohio; Saratoga, New York; Finney County, Kansas; and Bedford, Pennsylvania.
The report also listed a number of states with Republican majorities in their legislatures that are also ending sanctuary status, including Idaho, Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Trump’s January 25 executive order (“Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”) states:
Sec. 9. Sanctuary Jurisdictions. It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.
(a) In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated the administration’s intent to enforce the policy stated in the order on July 25, when he declared that any state not complying with requests concerning illegal immigrants held in local jails will lose federal grant money. He asserted:
So-called “sanctuary” policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes.
This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states, and these long overdue requirements will help us take down MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs, and make our country safer.
It has not been just the federal government that has taken aim on sanctuary cities. As we noted in our May 9 article, on May 7 Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill, Senate Bill 4, banning sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State. The law makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs, and other local law-enforcement officials subject to Class A misdemeanor charges if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor “detainer” requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates who are subject to deportation. The new law goes into effect September 1.
While there may not be a legal definition of a sanctuary city, one of the main supporters of SB 4, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), provided this description:
When they have policy, implied or implicit, formal or informal, or, if you will, just kind of soft throughout their system that says you cannot enforce the ICE detainers or you cannot enforce the inquiry provisions that have been held constitutional, you can’t enforce these laws, then you have a sanctuary city.
Image: Screenshot of Miami-Dade government portal