Immigration advocates want Miami-Dade to be immigrant sanctuary
BY CASEY WOODS
With the debate on immigration reform stalled in Congress, Miami immigrant advocates looked elsewhere Wednesday for inspiration: to such cities as San Francisco that have declared themselves ''sanctuaries'' where local police are barred from participating in certain kinds of immigration enforcement.
Flanked by rows of restless children wearing shirts that read ''Don't make me an orphan,'' Nora Sandigo was clear on what she wanted.
''Local politicians need to stand up and take care of the children in their own house,'' said Sandigo, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group American Fraternity.
The group wants the Miami-Dade County Commission to declare the county a sanctuary. The designation means county police would be prohibited from asking suspects about their immigration status during a traffic stop or arrest, and county officers would only participate in immigration raids targeting immigrants with criminal records and those who entered the country illegally.
The ''sanctuary'' designation proposal is part of a larger push by American Fraternity to protect undocumented immigrants. Earlier this month, the group filed a class-action lawsuit in Miami federal court on behalf of the U.S.-born children of those immigrants, arguing that their constitutional rights are being violated by the constant threat that their parents will be deported.
With legislation on comprehensive immigration law reform stalled in Washington, such action is necessary, Fraternity president Alfonso Oviedo said.
''For all practical purposes, I believe Dade County already is a sanctuary, but we want them to make it official so . . . that there will not be abuses,'' he said.
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Nothing like forcing the authorities to ignore the rule of law and allow lawlessness to rule rampant in a city