This article was originally published on the Huffington Post and the Center for Community Change blog under the full title, “Despite Promises, Florida Police Are Acting Like Immigration Agents and Separating Families.”
Driving without a license can be a daily nerve wrecking experience for a lot of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. In a city like Miami, where a lack of public transportation makes driving a necessity for working class people, that fear is palpable.
I grew up undocumented here with my family. My heart dropped if my parents called me to say they had been involved in a minor traffic incident or pulled over by police. We understood that the simplest interaction with the police could potentially lead to detainment and possible deportation. And my family would be split apart.
Those fears have exacerbated because of the harsh anti-immigrant policies espoused by the Trump administration. Trump has threatened to pull federal funding from “sanctuary cities,” which choose not to turn over suspected undocumented immigrants to federal immigration agencies. Miami-Dade County was the first municipality to comply with Trump’s executive action and is currently facing a lawsuit by the University of Miami Law Clinic and the ACLU over its decision to put immigrants living in the County at risk.
Miami Dade County Mayor repeatedly claimed when making the decision to comply with Trump’s order on sanctuary cities that police officers would not act as immigration officials.
Reality has shown otherwise.
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The Center for Community Change is dedicated to building the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better. To learn more, visit communitychange.org.
Tomas Kennedy is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change and the Deputy Political Director of FLIC Votes, an independent, non-partisan organization that seeks to defend democracy by shaping an active and conscious electorate.