Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez Sheds ‘Sanctuary City’ Skin While Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel Cloaks for Battle


“It boiled down to merely cooperating with federal immigration enforcement agents, no more, no less, exactly per constitutional requirements.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez has shed the sanctuary city skin so as to be in compliance with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump’s immigration and national security policies, thus availing themselves of access to federal grant money previously denied to the city for its anti-illegal immigrant stance.

Paring it down further, this change means law enforcement authorities in Miami-Dade County will cooperate fully with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents regarding detainers of inmates whose presence in our country is deemed illegal.

While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sues the United States of America in his efforts to retain sanctuary city status and federal dollars in the form of police grants, Miami is heralded as the first major metropolitan locale to not go against the grain. A compare/contrast ensues.

Rahm-en Noodles

I often find myself vexed by Rahm Emanuel’s philosophies and political stances. A cohort of mine clarified when he said “Whatdya expect, he worked for Obama!” It’s good to have friends with sense. Speaking of sense, sometimes it’s twisted nonsense.

In his lawsuit filed on August 7, 2017 in the Northern Illinois US District Court, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel throws sand in the eyes of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions by claiming the DoJ’s national security and immigration laws’ compliance criteria “upend Chicago’s Welcoming City policy” calling federal funding stipulations “sweeping new conditions on an established federal grant program.”

The only thing “sweeping” is that the new sheriff in town is cleaning up some leftover errant dust, expecting law abidance, and is unambiguously implying that rules are rules that must be followed.

Looking at it another way: Why should the federal government appease and finance a city government leader whose abject aiding and abetting of illegal immigrants is not only flaunted but is also vehemently defended?

Any federal dollars legitimately earned or awarded to smaller jurisdictions equates to our money (taxpayers) funneling down to state, county, and city locales. Why would any taxpayer not expect righteousness in that regard?

Mayor Emanuel’s stance seems to strongly imply entitlement. Reading the language he recorded in his lawsuit, it is clear that his mindset is as if the government is picking on him. For example, he uses the words “singled out Chicago and eight other cities…” as if the government is going after cities on a whim as opposed to targeting cities going against the law.

He strums the same sad harp solo: “We have bigger fish to fry, leave immigration issues alone.” Yet, his hand is unmistakably out for the federal dole, downplaying compliance with federal grant funding initiatives and the US Constitution’s immigration codes.

During episodes of light-duty, I have searched for, completed, and submitted grants for funding. The process can be arduous yet rewarding when done diligently and within specifications.

No grant funds come without question. No federal subsidies (tax dollars) arrive without oversight. No mayor is above the laws of the land. No city leader has the right to go as one pleases, uninhibited by statutes, like it’s a casual laissez-faire walk in the park.

Just as law enforcement accreditation comes with a gazillion criteria to meet before a police agency is granted the prize of “professionalism” by meeting or exceeding standards, so too is meeting muster for tax dollars in the form of grants. Either you fulfill the regulations or you do not. Dancing and skirting issues you don’t agree with are not on the compliance list.

Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance is a city brainstorm launched without apparent expectation of some form of resistance. Rahm sold that policy to Chicagoans, and it is a cauldron of noodles he stewed. Unfortunately, the Chicago police force may draw the short end of the stick, thanks to Mayor Emanuel’s stubbornness. Now, City of Chicago v. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is pending before a federal judge.

Mayoral Differences

Unlike Mayor Emanuel, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez sought to adhere to federal immigration codes as well as opt to legitimately benefit from grant funding offered by the United States Department of Justice in the form of an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).

In a Miami-Dade County memorandum, Mayor Gimenez acknowledged being in receipt of correspondence from the Department of Justice (DoJ), explaining, “I received a letter (attached) from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the compliance of Miami-Dade County with 8 U.S.C. § 1373 (Communication with government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service).”

Miami-Dade County was found by the federal government to be “in compliance” with anti-sanctuary city policies and thus eligible for $481,347 in grant funds for the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) to “enhance MDPD’s intelligence gathering and police operations with investments in technology and specialized equipment.”

For any cop shop, that is like Christmas in August. For cops in Miami-Dade County, Mayor Gimenez is a quasi-Santa Claus. In Chicago, I suspect there is a different sentiment.

As clearly delineated in the DoJ JAG materials providing guidance for application and award, the following is part and parcel:

“…the certification regarding compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373 must be executed and submitted before a unit of local government (other than an Indian tribal government) can make a valid award acceptance. Also, a unit of local government may not receive award funds (and its award will include a condition that withholds funds) until it submits a properly executed “Certifications and Assurances by Chief Executive of Applicant Government.”

It is not that Mayor Emanuel failed to do that, it is that he refuses to do so, hence his pending lawsuit.


After the Obama administration listed it among a registry of sanctuary cities, Mayor Gimenez reversed course and declared intents to get off the list and receive federal award monies by becoming a non-sanctuary city. As reported in the Miami Herald, “Gimenez’s change of policy sparked outrage from local immigration advocates, who accused the Cuban-born mayor of betraying Miami-Dade’s heritage of welcoming immigrants and advocating for the embrace of new arrivals to the country.”

In a Miami CBS-affiliate broadcast, it was announced that Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 9-3 to “honor any detainer requests from ICE agents.” The three county government dissenters were Jean Monestime, Daniella Levine Cava, and Xavier Suarez.

Despite the outpouring of protests against the county’s reversal, Mayor Gimenez clarified that “county cops will not become immigration officers nor [be] on the payroll of the US government.” It boiled down to merely cooperating with federal immigration enforcement agents, no more, no less, exactly per constitutional requirements.

Another great fear that Mayor Gimenez had was the loss of $355,000,000 in federal support per year. Naturally, that’s a lot of scratch when operating a huge metropolis population and infrastructure.

ICE Packs

Thanks to Mayor Gimenez’s co-opted covenant formed with the federal government, packs of ICE agents performing duty in the county press-back the swell, confront fewer hazards, and diminish the cat-and-mouse maneuverings previously criticized by many across the nation.

Have ICE agents been going to courthouses to locate illegal immigrants on the daily docket for purposes of deportation? You betcha’! It is their duty. Despite the whining of those in the system whose protective measures shield illegal aliens from federal custody — including some prosecutors and judges — ICE agents remain diligent in their duty.

In Miami, illegal immigrants already in custody means a reduction in potential confrontations and imminent violence of undocumented individuals who may exercise the either/or of the “fight or flight” theory. The inherent common denominator is our nation will be free of those who do not belong and cross the border uninvited and without legal cause. With that said, Mayor Gimenez is not blind, cold, hollow, or unfeeling.

On August 2, 2017, Miami-Dade County government officials advertised a program to help immigrants officially become US citizens, offering workshops commencing August 19 at local libraries. Turning over a new leaf reveals fresh soil to sow seeds and grow in prosperity, the right way. Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez tilled that soil and, in doing so, replenishes his governmental till while embracing constitutional covenants.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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