The mayor is an immigrant, and more than half its residents are foreign born.
But unlike many cities with large numbers of immigrants, there’s no sanctuary for people living illegally in Miami-Dade County, Florida. A recent decision by Mayor Carlos Gimenez requires local authorities to cooperate with federal officials to enforce immigration law.
The decree by Cuban-born Gimenez has roiled the area, drawing criticism from the mayors of the cities of Miami and Miami Beach. The county’s commissioners have called for a special meeting Friday to confront the mayor on the issue.
They’re not the only ones who are unhappy with the mayor. Immigration advocates and others opposed to the shift have filled the streets in protest, and a long-standing divide between Cuban-Americans and other Latinos has reappeared. Meanwhile, farmworkers who have lived in the area for years to plant and harvest vegetables on vast commercial farms fear they’ll be deported.
“I have four children. To get picked up like that would break me,” said Itzel, 23, who arrived as a baby from Mexico, works in nurseries near the city of Homestead and whose children were born in this country. She spoke on condition that her surname not be used because she fears deportation.
“I would be lost in Mexico. I’ve never been there. I’ve never traveled out of here,” she said.
Gimenez says his order to end Miami-Dade’s status as a sanctuary city, where policy forbids local police from enforcing federal immigration laws, was a financial decision. President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that would cut federal funds to local governments that did not fully cooperate on immigration enforcement. But immigration advocates say Gimenez’s decision sends the wrong message at a delicate time.
“To be fair, in a community where 50 percent were not born here it sends an erroneous and a somewhat negative