Protesters assemble against Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez during commission meeting

MIAMI (WSVN) - Demonstrators congregated during a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting in Downtown Miami, Tuesday, in an effort to sway commissioners to protect immigrants after Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered for the county to side with the federal government’s immigration policies.

A large group of protesters gathered inside of the Stephen P. Clark Center as Gimenez partook in a county commission meeting. They expressed discontent with Gimenez, who ordered the director of his corrections department to begin honoring all requests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigration suspects in Miami-Dade jails.

Many protesters signed up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting on a resolution about issuing civil citations rather than arresting first-time misdemeanor offenders. Instead, they used their time to voice their concerns about the treatment of immigrants. Security escorted them out of the building.

But they didn’t go out quietly. Dozens then protested on the bottom floor of the building.

“You are an immigrant too,” they chanted.

“He’s an immigrant, he’s an immigrant,” protester Juan Carlos Olmo said about Gimenez. “He should understand our fear. He should understand what we go through, and he needs to side with us and not with Trump. We need somebody to support us, and sadly, we don’t have a voice, and we need him. We need his voice, and that’s why these people are here.”

Despite their requests, Gimenez said he will not defy federal orders which could risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Trump’s executive order threatened to end federal funding of “sanctuary cities” that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Gimenez said the only difference is that the county is no longer asking the federal government to reimburse them for housing the prisoners.

“The order is that we would hold for 48 hours,” explained Gimenez. “They’re asking for a detainer request for 48 hours, and that’s what we complied with from 2008 to 2014, and that’s what we’ll comply with now.”

The move is expected to be up for discussion during a special meeting on Feb. 17 at 10 a.m.

“The policy is creating some fears and I don’t think we need to move so quickly,” District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said.

Protesters said they will continue to fight the order.

“I’m an undocumented and I’m not going to be afraid,” Olmo said. “We’re here and we’re here to stay.”

“Our message is that, at the end of the day, Mayor Gimenez should not support ICE detainers,” Gaby Garcia-Vera of the Florida Latina Advocacy Network said, “and make sure that undocumented communities are safe in this community, just like every other citizen.”

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