No Clear Path to Litigation Amid Reports of Detained Migrants Heading to South Florida

No Clear Path to Litigation Amid Reports of Detained Migrants Heading to South Florida

  

Broward Mayor Mark Bogen announced the federal government intends to begin transporting hundreds of undocumented immigrants to Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida. Photo: Eflatmajor7th via Wikimedia Commons

 

As alarms are sounded over the Trump administration’s unspecified plan to bring migrants to South Florida, experts say there’s no straightforward legal strategy outlining a method to combat the policy.

Broward Mayor Mark Bogen announced in a press release Thursday that the federal government intends to begin transporting undocumented immigrants to South Florida, with no prior arrangements for their shelter or safety.

The mayor, who called the plan “irresponsible,” said the county “will do everything possible to help.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” Bogen said. “To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane.”

Broward Mayor Mark Bogen announced in a press release Thursday that the federal government intends to begin transporting undocumented immigrants to South Florida, with no prior arrangements for their shelter or safety.

The mayor, who called the plan “irresponsible,” said the county “will do everything possible to help.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” Bogen said. “To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane.”

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said Thursday that he and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw had been made aware of the plan earlier in the week.

“Although no state or federal government official confirmed such action would be taking place, I elected to share this information with Mayor Mark Bogen and requested an emergency meeting be arranged with all County Commissioners in preparation for such an event,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and South Florida officials later confirmed the plan’s current iteration calls for approximately 1,000 immigrants to be transported and evenly dispersed between Palm Beach and Broward counties on a monthly basis.

University of Miami School of Law professor of law emeritus David Abraham said the lack of details about the policy and the federal government’s authority on handling immigration matters made it difficult to outline a tenable legal challenge against the plan.

“In the normal course of events, once people are bonded out … they are free to go whatever distance the court allows them to go,” he said. “So if they’re being offered transportation to South Florida … I don’t see anything in the law that would prohibit that. It’s pretty grim.”

He added, “Immigration policy is a federal government monopoly and the federal government has the authority to use facilities to house immigrants, to house detainees and enhance the authority to lease space if it doesn’t have enough space of its own. Normally, this authority is exercised on an individual basis by immigration judges.”

Abraham said although the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program enables the agency to collaborate with local officials in enforcing immigration laws, there’s no provision requiring state or local authorities to agree to the release of people waiting for hearings.

“And that’s where we are now with this,” he said, noting the policy would make it “much more difficult” for immigration lawyers to obtain documents and witnesses for their clients.

Business immigration attorney and former U.S. consulate to Mexico Jose Latour said the plan resembled the Mexican government’s own immigration procedures.

“The Mexican government has been busing people to border towns … and there’s a lot of coverage of mayors in these towns saying, ‘We can’t afford this,’ ” he said, noting it’s largely fallen on local groups such as churches to provide infrastructure and support to migrants.

Latour said a claim could be made by cities that the plan constitutes a failure by the federal government to manage immigration matters.

“Historically, whenever the federal government is ignoring or being passive about an issue that affects a local or a state or city government, the lawsuits happen,” he said, adding it’s plausible that injunctions or claims for compensation could be pursued. “This is literally transporting the responsibility of those illegal aliens in the U.S. to a different part of the U.S., and having no federal responsibility for the economics behind it.”

Meanwhile, Broward’s mayor told the Daily Business Review it appears “the administration has the right to move people from one location to another” on Friday.

“We have our county legal staff looking into it,” Bogen said. “At face value, we don’t see where the violations are.”

Romy Lerner, the associate director with University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic, said it’s important to prioritize the humanity of people who might be brought to South Florida over how theoretical litigation might play out.

“This is another ploy by the Trump administration to fabricate an immigration crisis and create panic by using or threatening to use human beings as pawns,” she said. “The reality is that the vast majority of these undocumented immigrants would do what they have always done when released from detention and/or at the border: find their way to family and community contacts in Florida.”

Source: The Daily Business Review

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