Miami Law Clinic Sues Miami-Dade County Over Immigration Jail Policy

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U.S. Citizen Illegally Jailed Under Controversial ‘Immigration Detainer’ Directive

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 5, 2017) – The University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic has filed a federal suit against Miami-Dade County for illegally detaining a U.S. citizen under its controversial jail policy of holding people in lockup for immigration authorities. The suit, filed on behalf of an 18-year-old United States citizen, asks Miami-Dade County and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez for monetary damages.

The lawsuit, joined by the law firm of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, challenges Miami-Dade County’s policy of detaining people beyond the end of their criminal custody solely for a suspected civil immigration violation.

Adopted by Mayor Gimenez on January 26, 2017, the immigration detainer policy violates the U.S. Constitution, including the prohibition against unlawful seizures under the Fourth Amendment and the guarantee of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the filing. Florida law also prohibits jail officials from detaining people for civil immigration purposes.

JailGarland Creedle was jailed at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center after police arrested him after an alleged domestic dispute. Creedle paid his bond shortly after he was arrested, but county jail officials failed to release him and instead held him for immigration officials. No criminal charges were ever filed in court against Creedle.

Miami-Dade County has been detaining people in jail for federal immigration enforcement officials ever since President Trump threatened in January to cut off funding for cities deemed “sanctuary cities.” After the County Commissioners voted in February to collaborate with immigration authorities, however, the Trump Administration clarified that only cities that violate federal law would be at risk of losing federal money. Although the County no longer faces loss of federal funding, it has not reconsidered it policy on immigration detainers.

Creedle was born in Honduras to a U.S. citizen father and has been a U.S. citizen since birth. Immigration authorities have been aware of Creedle’s U.S. citizenship since 2015, when they filed a motion to terminate immigration court proceedings against Creedle because he is a U.S. citizen.

“The Mayor and County Commissioners failed to listen to our community’s overwhelming opposition to this immigration jail policy,” said Rebecca Sharpless, attorney for Garland Creedle and director of the Immigration Clinic at Miami Law. “Mixing our local criminal justice system with federal immigration enforcement is not only bad policy, it is illegal. We are all now paying the price.”

Other U.S. cities — large and small — have vowed to continue to keep local law enforcement separate from immigration enforcement, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, San Francisco, Syracuse, and Washington, D.C.

For more information contact Rebecca Sharpless, Immigration Clinic, University of Miami School of Law at 305-798-5604 or rsharpless@law.miami.edu

MEDIA CONTACT: Catharine Skipp at 305-773-5801 or cskipp@law.miami.edu

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The University of Miami School of Law’s mission is to foster the intellectual discipline, creativity, and critical skills that will prepare its graduates for the highest standards of professional competence in the practice of law in a global environment subject to continual ― and not always predictable ― transformation; to cultivate a broad range of legal and interdisciplinary scholarship that, working at the cutting edge of its field, enhances the development of law and legal doctrine, and deepens society’s understanding of law and its role in society; and to fulfill the legal profession’s historic duty to promote the interests of justice. www.law.miami.edu

The Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law is a law office dedicated to protecting the rights of immigrants of all nationalities. www.law.miami.edu/academics/clinics/immigration-clinic