MIRAMAR, FL – Immigration advocates today sent a letter to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) calling on the agency to suspend all in-person check-ins at its Miramar facility in light of the spread of coronavirus in Broward County. Every day, upwards of 200 people travel to the Miramar facility and wait in long lines outdoors to check-in with ICE. Following confirmed reports of the coronavirus in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the immediate closure of all public-school campuses, as well as bars and pubs, in the state. Prior to that, he directed state agencies to temporarily suspend driver’s license and professional license renewal requirements. Locally, counties across the state are closing parks, beaches, and other “nonessential” businesses. All immigration courts in the country have now either closed their doors or suspended all hearings of non-detained individuals.
“The number of known cases of COVID-19 in Broward County—which already accounts for the largest share of known cases in Florida —continues to rise exponentially,” the letter states. “[P]rompt action may be critical to preventing further spread of this highly contagious disease through a population made more vulnerable by common lack of access to healthcare and reliance on public transportation—and whose lack of access to legal representation, as well as child care and other social resources, will likely be exacerbated by the closure of schools and the dramatic economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The organizations’ demands come shortly after ICE announced it would stop most immigration enforcement in the United States to reduce the spread of the coronavirus; however over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported that ICE had no plans to close it’s facilities, such as the one in Miramar, amidst these public health concerns.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Community Justice Project
Americans for Immigrant Justice
Immigration Clinic, University of Miami School of Law
Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, FIU College of Law