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Case of Detained US Citizen in Florida Could Challenge Trump Efforts on Sanctuary Cities

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The Trump Administration’s attempts at cracking down on so-called “sanctuary cities” is continuing, with reports today that Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice is reviewing whether ten jurisdictions around the nation are in compliance with a provision of immigration law, as they claim to be.

A case coming out of Miami, however, could challenge the Administration’s efforts at making cities and counties do what they want on sanctuary cities. In March, local police held 18-year-old Garland Creedle overnight on the suspicion that he was an undocumented immigrant, even though he had already posted bail in a domestic dispute case which was later dropped.

That detainer was unconstitutional, Garland’s lawyers say, as well as uncalled for since Garland is a US citizen. This is at least the second time that officials have targeted him — in 2015, immigration authorities started a deportation case against him before realizing that he was a citizen. Garland’s case has been filed by the ACLU and other attorneys in the US District Court of Miami.

The Trump Administration’s policies are directly involved because in January, Trump signed an executive order — later blocked by the courts — threatening to hold billions of dollars of federal funding from cities and counties that don’t toe the Administration’s line on sanctuary cities. In response to the executive order, Miami-Dade’s mayor Carlos A. Giménez directed local officials to honor ICE detainer requests, saying the county could not afford to lose funding. Miami-Dade is the only large jurisdiction to give into Donald Trump’s demands on sanctuary cities; hundreds of cities and counties around the nation limit their cooperation with federal ICE activities. This limited cooperation is done for good reasons — sanctuary cities are safer, and multiple courts have ruled that non-sanctuary policies can be unjust. The fact that Garland Creedle was locked up longer than he needed to be was a result of Miami-Dade’s decision to capitulate to Trump’s policies, when the county should’ve known better.

As Rebecca Sharpless, an attorney for Creedle and director of the University of Miami law’s immigration clinic, said:

The fact that he is a U.S. citizen and is held under these detainers is important because it shows that the probable cause determination on the detainers form does not pass constitutional muster. If you are a U.S. citizen and a detainer is issued to determine there is probable cause to deport you — that is wrong.

Added American Civil Liberties Union of Florida attorney Amien Kacou:

We warned the county about the dangers posed by the premature decision to cave in to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant threats. Miami-Dade County has long prided itself on being a place welcoming to immigrants, and should honor that legacy by joining other cities large and small across the country in refusing to serve as tools of overzealous immigration enforcement policy.