Community leaders, local residents participate in immigration hunger strike

MIAMI (WSVN) - A community is coming together to for a hunger strike as a response to what they said is an injustice done by a South Florida mayor.

Several Miami-Dade community members believe Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez betrayed those in South Florida by complying with President Donald Trump’s executive order against immigrant communities.

Now, religious and immigration leaders alike are protesting by banding together at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. Instead of holding up signs at this protest, demonstrators have instead been giving their personal testimonies at the church. “The fast is a physical sacrifice, and it’s a spiritual act,” said one participant.

Protesters will be fasting throughout the week before Friday’s County Commission hearing on ICE detainers.

They are hoping this hunger strike will highlight Gimenez’s actions and how it can impact the community. The concern arose after Gimenez ordered the Department of Corrections to honor requests made by federal officials to hold immigration suspects in Miami-Dade jails back in January.

“People are scared about being targeted by police, and there are a lot of people who supported Gimenez who are also concerned about why isn’t he standing with immigrants right now?” said Muhammed Malik, who is fasting.

Gimenez said he doesn’t want South Florida to be classified as a sanctuary community, a title given the county by the President Obama Administration.

“Follow the law, and that’s all I’m requesting to do,” said Gimenez. “Follow the law, and whatever we do, we don’t risk hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds that we get every year.”

The group organized the fast in order to put county officials on notice with a letter. It’s a quiet act in comparison to what we’ve seen locally and across the country during protests that were focused on immigration concerns.

Senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller spoke about the situation on FOX News on Sunday. “Right now, as the result of the president’s order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place,” he said. “It is true the operation cross-check is something that happens every year. But this year we have taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens from our communities.”

Officials from immigration and customs enforcement said the efforts are normal and have also happened during the previous administration.

Mayor Gimenez told 7News that that is a federal matter and that he’s focused on Friday’s meeting. “I would hope we would alter the resolution that allows my office to follow the law,” he said.

“Concerned folks want to make sure that, quote unquote, criminal violent offenders are deported out of this country, but whether it’s sweeps or whether in that effort, there are a lot of people who are sometimes innocent and get caught up in that,” said immigration activist Elbert Garcia.

More than a handful of fasters are expected to gather during the day on a rotation to speak to community about issues leading up to Friday morning’s commission meeting.

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