The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Miami-Dade County, Florida, and its mayor for complying with President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration detainers.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch identified Miami-Dade County as not honoring immigration detainers, Breitbart Texas reported. Following President Trump’s executive order withholding federal law enforcement grants from jurisdictions not in compliance with immigration officials, Miami-Dade County reversed its sanctuary city policy and began honoring immigration detainers.
The ACLU urges, perhaps warns, “other cities large and small across the country” to “refus[e] to serve as tools of overzealous immigration enforcement policy.” The group is seeking money damages because their client spent an extra night in jail “solely for a suspected civil immigration violation.”
The ACLU of Florida issued a statement from Amien Kacou that called the county’s decision “to cave in to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant threats” “premature.”
After they filed the lawsuit, the self-described “nation’s premier defender of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution” tweeted, “We warned the county about the dangers posed by the premature decision.”
— Miami New Times (@MiamiNewTimes) July 5, 2017
“The practice of treating everyone with an immigration detainer as not eligible for release has immediate and dire effects,” they pleaded in the federal complaint.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, states:
The County voluntarily detained Mr. Creedle at the request of federal immigration authorities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The detention occurred pursuant to a directive from Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez that requires the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCR) to deny release for 48 hours or more to any person who is the subject of a check-the-box immigration detainer request.
ACLU’s Kacou said in the formal statement, “Miami-Dade County has long prided itself on being a place welcoming to immigrants, and should honor that legacy by joining other cities large and small across the country in refusing to serve as tools of overzealous immigration enforcement policy.”
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff, Garland Creedle, who was born in Honduras but is an American citizen because his father was an American citizen when he was born. Creedle has been living in Honduras but came to the United States in 2015. Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put him in administrative removal proceedings, but they filed a motion in April 2015 to terminate the matter because Creedle had submitted documentation showing that he was a U.S. citizen.
The group filed the federal complaint asking for money damages because the plaintiff, Garland Creedle, was illegally detained in the county jail for an extra day. Police arrested him on the evening of March 12 after an alleged domestic violence incident. Creedle’s lawyers say their client was entitled to be released by posting bond but was held “based on the assertion that he is a ‘removable alien’.” No charges were filed, and he was released on March 14. They filed a request for a jury trial.
The federal lawsuit names Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez as a plaintiff. The plaintiff asserts that the mayor’s immigration detainer policy released January 26 violates the United States Constitution; in particular, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unlawful seizures. They pleaded that the defendants “commit[ed] the common law tort of false imprisonment.”
Creedle’s lawyers urge that the City’s policy also violates Florida law that forbids jails from detaining people for “civil” immigration reasons. The county commissioners passed a resolution in December 2013 “which directed the Mayor to limit the County’s authority to hold individuals under immigration detainer requests.” They argue the policy imposed two conditions before the county would comply with a federal immigration detainer: (1) the federal government had to agree to “reimburse the County for all associated costs in writing;” and (2) after that condition was met, “the County would detain only individuals who have been charged or convicted of certain enumerated offenses.”
Amien Kacou and Nancy Abudu of the ACLU of Florida, the Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law, and the lawyers with the firm of Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A., are representing the 18-year-old Creedle. They argue that Mayor Gimenez’ immigration detainer directive “reversed over three years of prior policy, under which Miami-Dade Co. declined to use millions of taxpayer dollars to underwrite the federal government’s immigration enforcement agenda.”
The ACLU asks the federal court to issue a declaratory judgment declaring Miami-Dade County’s policy on immigration detainers invalid. The group also wants Creedle’s detention ruled unconstitutional and asked for compensatory damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs and any other relief the judge deems just and proper. They urge that Creedle has “suffered injuries, including financial, pain and suffering, humiliation, and emotional harm,” because he was detained in the jail for an extra day.
They urge that a “detainer is not supported by a warrant or any other probable cause determination” but is only a “fill-in-the-blank form” (a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Request for Voluntary Transfer).