For years, Miami-Dade taxpayers have been subsidizing the jailing of undocumented immigrants by Secure Communities, a federal program of U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Among those jailed immigrants are victims of domestic violence and people whose charges had been dismissed.

We applaud the M-D County Attorney, who rightly concluded that compliance with ICE requests to hold such immigrants are “voluntary and not mandated by federal law or regulation.” Click here to see the Memorandum from County Attorney.

We thank Commissioner Sally Heyman who has worked hard to address local Secure Communities issues.

Americans for Immigrant Justice urges Miami-Dade County to evaluate the fiscal and human costs of continuing to subsidize the federal Secure Communities program. We strongly recommend that Miami-Dade County follow the lead of numerous states and local governments and not honor ICE detainer requests unless an immigrant has been convicted of a serious crime.

That is one of the recommendations of False Promises: The Failure of ICE’s Secure Communities in Miami-Dade County released in April 2013. This data-driven report by AI Justice and the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University documents how the Secure Communities program makes communities less safe by making immigrants afraid to communicate with police in Miami-Dade County. The data also show that Secure Communities overwhelmingly has detained and deported unauthorized immigrants with no criminal history or only minor offenses.

Following is the statement from Cheryl Little, AI Justice Executive Director:

“Why should taxpayers fund extra beds for local jails and federal detention centers to detain and deport people who pose no threat to the public? The question is particularly relevant now, as Congress is working on immigration reforms that may provide millions of individuals a path to legal status.”

Following is the statement from Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade Public Defender.

“In a recently dismissed case, a guy was charged with trespassing for sitting on a bus bench. For others, though, the justice system wants quick plea deals. Individuals have little time to understand the consequences and impact of their plea, always thinking that they will get out of jail with the plea. That’s not what happens often. ICE is there to pick them up.”

Following is the statement of Jonathan Fried, Executive Director of We Count! in Homestead

“Now that the county attorney has confirmed what legal experts around the country have said – that ICE detainers are requests, not orders – the county’s political leadership is free to create policy that is in the best interest of our community. We would improve police-community relations, avoid the trauma of separating many local families, and save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by limiting compliance with ICE detainer requests to those convicted of serious crimes.”