Tuesday, February 14, 2017
In Anticipation of Friday's Sanctuary County Status Meeting: Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava asks Legal Questions. By Geniusofdespair
I wrote about this yesterday asking what is the rush? Why is Mayor Carlos Gimenez jumping the gun to denounce our status as a sanctuary city? There will be a process for the feds to go through. He didn't have to do it now except to earn Brownie Points with the President.
Here are some questions Commissioner Daniella Levine would like answered by the legal department before Friday's 10am meeting (The Commission directs policy NOT THE MAYOR):
On December 23, 2013, this Board adopted Resolution R-1008-13 (R-1008-13). R-1008-13 directed the Mayor to implement a policy granting the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department discretion to honor detainer requests issued by the federal government only if: 1) the federal government agreed in writing to reimburse Miami-Dade County for any and all costs relating to compliance with such detainer requests, and 2) the inmate who is the subject of such a request has a previous felony conviction or has a pending charge of a non-bondable offense.
On January 26, 2017, Mayor Carlos Gimenez directed the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department to honor any detainer requests received by the Department of Homeland Security in response to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” (EO).
Before we can understand the implications of the Mayor’s January 26th directive (Mayor’s directive), there are a series of unanswered questions that have broader consequences for Miami-Dade County’s financial solvency and our authority as a local, home-rule government. I write now to seek clarity from the County Attorney on the following legal questions:
1. The Mayor’s directive appears to conflict with a duly adopted county policy. Could you please provide me with a legal opinion regarding the effect of the Mayor’s directive? Absent any further action of the Board of County Commissioners, it is my understanding that R-1008-13 is still the policy of Miami-Dade County. Is this correct? Does the Mayor have the authority to disregard a policy of this Board?
2. Does President Trump’s Executive Order apply to Miami-Dade County? Are we, in fact, considered a “Sanctuary County” legally? On what basis?
3. The Mayor’s directive was made absent any known or published agreement with the federal government guaranteeing that the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County will be reimbursed for costs associated with complying with detainer requests pursuant to R-1008-13. Is the County Attorney’s office negotiating any agreement or contract with the federal government to reimburse taxpayers for these detainer requests? (I will ask the Office of Management & Budget to provide the anticipated impact to our budget for covering this unfunded federal mandate.)
4. If Miami-Dade County does comply with this Executive Order, what is our legal exposure? What are our rights and responsibilities vis-à-vis the federal government? Might we face constitutional challenges for detaining inmates without a warrant? Are we opening Miami-Dade County taxpayers up to costly litigation on top of the additional costs of detention?
5. Given the White House’s stated desire to expand the scope of its deportations and expand the definition of “criminal” in the immigration context, do we fully understand the scope of who this policy might include?
6. The Mayor has stated that our police would not act as immigration enforcement agents. However, Section 8 of the EO states that it is the President’s policy to empower local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States. The Mayor’s statement that the Miami-Dade Police Department will not act as immigration officers appears to be in conflict with the EO. If, as the Mayor also stated, we are complying by federal law, will MDPD begin performing the functions of immigration officers? If MDPD does not take on the functions of immigration officers, is the County in compliance with the Executive Order? Would Miami-Dade once again be at risk for losing federal grants? Has there been any communication with federal agencies to understand the full extent of what is being asked of us?
7. I have requested the preparation of a resolution which will allow the County to join the lawsuit on the constitutionality of the EO. As you prepare that item for my review, I would also like an opinion regarding Miami-Dade County’s current legal obligations under this EO.
8. The Mayor has stated that this decision was motivated, in part, to prevent Miami-Dade County from losing federal funding, a difficult position for any leader. Does the President have the authority to cut funding to local government in this manner? If so, what is the scope of the Presidential power to compel Miami-Dade County to overturn our own laws?
9. Finally, Miami-Dade County is not the only local government in this position. Has the Mayor or the County Attorney consulted with other similarly-situated municipalities?