The Miami Herald and other news outlets are reporting that Miami, Florida is the first city to bow under threats of federal funding withdrawal under Trump’s executive order regarding immigration and sanctuary cities.
Fearing a loss of millions of dollars for defying immigration authorities, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday ordered county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests — effectively gutting the county’s position as a “sanctuary” for immigrants in the country illegally.
Gimenez cited an executive order signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut federal grants for any counties or cities that don’t cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally and wanted by ICE — not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense.
Miami had not called itself a sanctuary city, and there is no official designation as such. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (a Republican who says he voted for Clinton, according to the paper) says it is a financial decision, not an ideological one.
“I want to make sure we don’t put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government for a $52,000 issue,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be arresting more people. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be enforcing any immigration laws.”
Thursday evening, when this Miami Herald story moved online, Trump posted a response on Twitter:
“Miami-Dade Mayor drops sanctuary policy. Right decision. Strong!”
The $52,000 reference: “Last year, the county declined to hold some 100 inmates wanted by the feds. Keeping them in local jails would have cost about $52,000 — a relative drop in the bucket for a county with a total annual budget of $7 billion.”
Faith leaders continue to respond to Trump’s proposed legislation.
Scott Arbeiter, World Relief president, in Relevant magazine:
“Our children and grandchildren may ask of us: ‘What did you know and what did you do in the worst humanitarian crisis in history? ‘Did you walk courageously and with compassion and with appropriate care for security, or did you simply close the doors?’”
The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, a world relief program, says Trump’s orders are “not a Bible issue.” In an interview with the Huffington Post, which asked
whether it’s possible to reconcile Trump’s temporary ban on refugees with the Christian commandment to welcome, clothe and feed the stranger, and to be a Good Samaritan to those in need.
Graham said he doesn’t believe those two things need to be reconciled.
“It’s not a biblical command for the country to let everyone in who wants to come, that’s not a Bible issue,” Graham told HuffPost. “We want to love people, we want to be kind to people, we want to be considerate, but we have a country and a country should have order and there are laws that relate to immigration and I think we should follow those laws. Because of the dangers we see today in this world, we need to be very careful.”
A collection of responses from Religion News Service includes the National Association of Evangelicals:
“Christians and churches have been welcoming refugees for 2,000 years, and evangelicals are committed to continue this biblical mission. Thousands of U.S. evangelicals and their churches have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past 40 years through World Relief and other federally approved resettlement agencies. We don’t want to stop now,” NAE President Leith Anderson said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations:
“Such executive orders and laws will not improve our nation’s safety and security, rather it will reinforce fear, hate, and division within our country. Immigrants and refugees have become legislators, doctors, engineers, and businesspeople who positively contribute to what America is — targeting them is misguided and against our country’s core values.” — CAIR-Minnesota.
The Unitarian Universalist Association:
“We stand in a long tradition of radical hospitality. From the underground railroad to this very day, we have welcomed the stranger, sheltered the refugee, offered safe home, resisted racism, fear and exclusion. We will not be silent if families are torn apart, children terrified, parents detained. We are not accomplices to hate or reactionary fear. Our calling is to love and justice and faithful resistance. We will open our hearts, we will open our doors, to those who face the threat of deportation. All are welcome, period.” – The Rev. Victoria Safford, lead minister, White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, Mahtomedi, Minn.
Photo: By Marc Averette – Own work, CC BY 3.0