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Miami-Dade Mayor Pushes Back Against Immigrant Detention Critics

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the face of loud protests over Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's decision to hold arrested immigrants when asked by ICE, the mayor's office has released a list of 34 it says have been detained so far.

They noted all but four were charged with serious crime and 20 had prior arrests, with the feds only picking up a few of them.

"Of the 34, only 10 were taken into custody. Ten had an immigration hold that had been placed on them lifted," said mayoral spokesman Michael Hernandez. "In other words, they were no longer of interest to the federal government."

Immigration and civil rights activists argue it's illegal to hold even one person charged with a bondable offense, absent a court order to the contrary.

"The people that are here in the United States are protected by due process. They have certain rights that have to be protected," said Nera Shefer, an Aventura immigration attorney.

The Gimenez administration is convinced it's on the right side of the law until told otherwise.

"If there is a different court order, another judge, whether it be here in the state of Florida or somewhere else in the country that rules in a different fashion, we have to abide by it," Hernandez said.  "But we're doing the best we can here in Miami-Dade County to abide by the law as we see fit."

Miami-Dade's mayor is the first and only so far among those presiding over so-called  "sanctuary cities" to comply with the Trump administration's 48 hour hold order – except in cases of immigrants who are charged with violent crime.

"I think the federal administration needs to hear the reasons why those cities have taken that approach, and come to a compromise," said Shefer, the immigration lawyer.

Despite loud dissension, Mayor Gimenez says he's doing what President Trump wants in order to avoid payback:  The possible loss of hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in federal funding.

It is expected to be an emotional and contentious meeting Friday when county commissioners consider the mayor's detainer order on arrested immigrants, and whether it should be overturned.

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