Florida County Sued for Detention of US Citizen at Behest of Immigration Officials

Suit against Miami-Dade County claims Honduran-born Garland Creedle was illegally detained, as activists hope to restore Miami’s ‘sanctuary city’ status

In itself, Garland Creedle’s short stay at Miami’s Turner Guilford Knight correctional centre ought to have been unremarkable. Arrested after an alleged domestic dispute at his family’s home one evening in March, the 18-year-old posted bond, and charges were never filed.

The Honduran-born teenager, however, now finds himself at the centre of a legal fight that immigration activists hope could ultimately restore Miami’s status as a so-called sanctuary city – and end county mayor Carlos Gimenez’s controversial cooperation with Donald Trump’s aggressive anti-immigrant agenda.

A lawsuit filed against Gimenez and Miami-Dade County by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the University of Miami school of law’s immigration clinic and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, claims county jail officials acted illegally by detaining Creedle for two days at the request of US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (Ice) as a “removable alien” even after his bond payment had posted.

According to the lawsuit, not only is Creedle a US citizen, making him ineligible for deportation, but Miami-Dade’s actions in holding anyone on an immigration detainer without a valid arrest warrant contravenes both the US constitution and Florida law.

“That a US citizen was held illustrates the problematic nature of these detainers, and one of our claims is there’s an insufficient probable cause finding on the detainer,” said Rebecca Sharpless, Creedle’s attorney and director of the immigration clinic at UM law school.

“We warned the county; we wrote to the mayor and commissioners before they decided to go forward, stating it was unlawful and that it was bad policy because it mixes immigration policy with our criminal justice system. They failed to heed our warning.”

The lawsuit, Sharpless says, is the culmination of six months of frustration and fear among south Florida’s sizeable immigrant community.

By Richard Luscombe for THE GUARDIAN
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