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Activists Launch Interfaith Fast In Response To Miami-Dade Mayor’s Anti-Immigrant Order

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In Florida, eight activists have launched an “interfaith fast” to demand Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez reverse his decision to back down from the county’s sanctuary policy, a move he made in response to Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant executive order.

Giménez has been skewered for his decision. Last month, dozens of angry protesters surrounded Mayor Giménez’s office, including Rep. Keith Ellison. One Spanish-language sign read, “traitor”. According to Juan Escalante, “the County Commission of Miami-Dade [has] called a meeting to discuss the immigration protections Gimenez struck down.”

The group of eight activists — which includes at least one DACA recipient — plan to fast until the meeting. More from Miami New Times:

“Today at 1 PM, we escalate the struggle by launching an interfaith fast to demand that Miami-Dade County protect, not endanger, our immigrant families,” writes Muhammed Malik, one of the eight activists participating in the fast. He adds, “As people representing a cross section of faiths, we feel an urgency to speak up against what we see as a moral injustice. These are frightening times for many in Miami-Dade, and not just for those who may have undocumented family and friends.”

This Friday, the County Commission will hold a special meeting to debate whether to overturn Gimenez’s order. The fast participants say they’ll forgo food until the meeting begins — and plan to spend most of their time sitting outside County Hall — as a stark reminder to both Gimenez and the entire County Commission that their actions have consequences.

The eight participants come from diverse backgrounds: One activist, Umi Selah, is participating as part of the Dream Defenders, a statewide group of black-rights activists. Another, Juan Carlos Carabantes, is a beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the 2012 policy that allowed undocumented people brought here as children to apply for two-year deportation deferrals. Immigration activists have long worried that Trump will work to undo DACA protections.

“I am fasting to highlight the injustice, and as a call to solidarity among all, so you can see the sacrifice and the resistance that our community has just by being alive on this Earth,” Carabantes wrote in Spanish online. “I’m tired of our community being attacked. I’m tired of seeing my parents and our neighbors fear every day. I’m tired of my life being discussed as if it’s nothing.”

Other participants, including activists Zenia Perez and Erika Grohoski Peralta, are members of Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party and the Miami-Dade County Progressive Caucus, a group that was formed in response to infighting over whom Miami’s Democratic Party would support for state party chair.

The hunger strike ensures that a scandal Gimenez has tried to downplay will remain at the forefront of county political discussions for yet another week. Gimenez said he made the move because Trump threatened to withhold funding from cities that refuse to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

But scores of independent experts, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say the order could actually cost the county more money. Miami-Dade had previously declined to detain undocumented people on behalf of ICE because the feds wouldn’t pay for that jail time. Now that Gimenez rescinded that policy, the detentions could cost local taxpayers millions of dollars and open Miami-Dade up to wrongful-incarceration lawsuits.

To coincide with Valentine’s Day today, We Belong Together has invited “children and youth from across Miami-Dade County to share their Valentine’s messages to our mayor and commissioners urging them for Miami to stay a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees”: