One after another, the people who crammed the Miami-Dade County Commission chambers Friday delivered an extended, impassioned and often eloquent defense of immigration, imploring their elected leaders to defend South Florida’s diversity under the presidency of Donald Trump.
More than 150 people signed up to speak, almost all of them against Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s decision to require local jails to detain inmates at the request of federal immigration authorities. Commissioners are scheduled to vote to accept or reject Gimenez’s directive later Friday.
The mayor has cast his action as a purely financial one, intended to avoid a federal funding cut threatened by a Trump executive order banning cities and counties that act as a “sanctuary” for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
But for most speakers — the vast majority of them Hispanic — Gimenez’s move to essentially revoke the county’s sanctuary stance represented an unacceptable rebuke to Miami-Dade’s immigrant identity.
“I’m heartbroken by this debate,” said Manuel Ernesto Gutierrez, who described himself as a U.S. Navy veteran. “What bothers me — and should bother you — is the fundamental issue of what kind of community do we want to be. Do we want to be a welcoming community?”
Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff