Watch CBS News

Extended Immigrant Hold Ruled Unconstitutional But Fight Far From Over

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Although a Miami-Dade judge ruled Friday that county holds of arrested immigrants for ICE is unconstitutional, the debate is far from over.

"Yeah, this is a great win. It's a great win for the Constitution. It's a great win for individual rights and it's a judge who's courageous enough not to be intimidated by the president of the United States," said attorney Louis Reizenstein.

In his order, the judge said the ICE holds on county inmates violate "the separation of powers between the state and federal governments ... (and) the Constitution of the United States ... The Federal government is without power to compel state authorities to house ... Federal prisoners."

Immigrant activists cheered the court's order.

"The detainers are nothing but courtesy holds. They are not constitutional. They are not an order. We do not want to turn our people over to immigration," said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

While the judge ruled against the county, the practical effect of the ruling on arrested immigrants is not yet clear since the county can appeal the decision, and they plan to, filing a notice of intent to appeal Friday before the state's Third District Court of Appeals.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez spoke with reporters in Doral on Friday and said the county does not accept the state court's ruling, or jurisdiction in the immigration battle.

"This is federal law. There were plenty of precedents given to this particular judge about why he didn't really have standing," Gimenez said. "This issue really needs to be heard in federal court."

Gimenez said the real solution to immigration woes lies "in the halls of Congress" where lawmakers should come together and enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Just a day before, attorneys for a detained immigrant and Miami-Dade had squared off in court over Mayor Carlos Gimenez's and the county commission's decision to honor ICE requests to hold arrested immigrants beyond the time they would otherwise be released.

"The Constitution and the Bill of Rights require probable cause," Reizenstein told Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch on Thursday.

The county's detentions for ICE have made for huge controversy and protest. The case before the court involved James Lacroix, a Haitian immigrant charged with chronically driving without a license.

"There is no authority for states to hold individuals under a federal detainer request when their case is closed," Reizenstein said.

The county countered it has entered into a reasonable agreement with the feds.

"Please, hold this individual on our behalf, pursuant to our authority to detain him, for 48 hours so we can coordinate our agents to go pick that individual up," said County Attorney Michael Valdes in explaining the ICE requests.

"They think 48 hours is a short period of time?" said Reizenstein. "Let them go sit in the jail for 48 hours and tell us how it feels. This is unconstitutional."

The mayor and commission agreed to the ICE detention requests for fear of losing federal funding. The detainee's attorney calls it an unconstitutional 'caving in.'

"This is nothing more than the federal government threatening and blackmailing states and Miami-Dade County," Reizenstein said.

As for the Haitian immigrant James LaCroix, ICE picked him up from the county jail for deportation Wednesday, where he was being held after completing his sentence of 7 days for time served.

But this case isn't about deportation. It's about the detention policy, one which the judge upended on Friday. However, the judge did not directly order the county to stop the practice of detaining immigrants for ICE. The mayor said the county is going to continue that practice as the ruling is appealed, unless ordered otherwise by a court.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.