Students deliver message on immigration to Miami-Dade Mayor

MIAMI (WSVN) - On Valentine’s Day, students made their way to Miami-Dade County’s Government Center with a message for the mayor.

Children and teens delivered Valentine’s Day cards, Tuesday, to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office. Inside the cards were messages that expressed their concerns over immigration issues.

Students said the cards are asking Gimenez to “have a heart” after he ordered, last month, that the Department of Corrections honor all requests made by federal officials to hold immigration suspects in Miami-Dade County jails.

“I do not understand why our mayor bowed down to Trump,” one teen said.

Andrea Mercado, an immigrant rights activist, said the protesters are directly impacted by Trump’s policies.

“These are kids who have had parents deported, who live everyday with the consequences of our broken immigration system,” she said.

The mayor cited President Donald Trump’s threat to cut federal grants to communities that do not cooperate.

“Well, I mean, kids are really the ones feeling the impact of immigration policies and the actions of the Trump administration,” said immigrant rights advocate Andrea Mercado, “so kids decided to come here today because they feel the betrayal of mayor Gimenez.”

Leah Cayasso, 11, read her message to 7 News before delivering it.

“I am scared that I might be separated from my parents while at school,” she said.

Other messages read, “I love my community. Do you?”

The protesters also delivered a large cardboard broken heart.

Gimenez wasn’t in his office on Tuesday.

Miami-Dade Director of Communications Michael Hernandez said officers won’t play different roles in the community after Gimenez’s orders.

“Our officers are not going to be immigration enforcement agents,” he said. “They never have been, they never will be. That is a federal responsibility, and everyone needs to understand that. It’s heartbreaking that these kids are coming up to our office thinking that Mayor Gimenez has control over federal policy.”

“It’s heartbreaking that on Valentine’s these folks are misrepresenting, or at a minimum, they’re being misled on what Miami-Dade County’s position is and has been,” Hernandez added. “This is the same policy we had in place between 2008 and 2014. All that has changed is that we are not requiring a reimbursement from the federal government.”

Hernandez said he issued the order because he didn’t want to risk losing federal funds.

“We won’t jeopardize our public housing and community development department, our police officers and our transportation system,” he said.

This group has joined another group that is participating in a hunger strike in protest of Gimenez’s compliance with Trump’s orders.

The children will take their concerns to Washington next month.

County commissioners will meet on Friday to discuss the immigration order.

“They’re here because the mayor, instead of standing with them and protecting immigrant families, is standing with Trump in a clear attack on their homes,” Mercado said.

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