Miami is utterly sweltering today. Earlier this morning, WeatherUnderground reported that considering the humidity, the temperature felt like 115 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Yet tons of immigrants are stuck in the heat this week at South Florida's main Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Miramar, where ICE keeps immigrants waiting outdoors in what is essentially a caged pen for hours at a time.
The conditions are degrading enough that activists regularly show up to aid immigrants with special needs and to pass out water and snacks to people waiting in the lines. But during what has been a historic and outright dangerous heat wave across Florida, activists have filmed Homeland Security agents stating that the advocates are no longer allowed to give water to anyone waiting in line at the facility.
In the first clip posted yesterday, a DHS cop — who himself is drinking a cold bottle of water — shouts at the activists and tells them they're not allowed to walk near immigrants waiting in line at the publicly owned facility. One activist tells the officer they were allowed to hand out water the previous week, and the cop responds by shouting.
"I wasn't there last week, so I didn't tell you anything!" he yells.
DHS is preventing us from passing waters and talking to folks at the Miramar ICE processing center. Last week they wouldn’t let us cross the street but today they did cause media was there. Alan who is a civil rights lawyer believes this is a violation of 1st amendment rights. pic.twitter.com/sUEJTcHwZC— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 2, 2019
Today did not appear to go any better. In a second clip published this afternoon, activists filmed a second guard telling them they can't hand out water bottles. In the clip, the advocates appear visibly hot and sweaty. Many of their faces are red.
"What is the big deal? Why can't we just pass out waters?" local activist Tomas Kennedy asks. "I mean yesterday, one of the DHS guys was telling us not to pass out waters while he was drinking water himself. He had a bottle of water. It's obviously hot. The DHS officer was thirsty. Why can't we just go and pass out waters to these poor people?"
"Because you can't go pass the water," the cop responds flatly. Seconds later, he adds, "Once you get past that fence line, they [Homeland Security] decide what happens there."
DHS is again preventing us from passing out water and legal info to folks waiting in line under the hot FL sun at the Miramar ICE processing center. This is the same place where people are forced to wait for hours under the sun with no bathrooms or parking. Cruelty is the point. pic.twitter.com/vy2kSxWH0f— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 3, 2019
New Times has repeatedly chronicled poor conditions at the Miramar ICE facility. Last year, immigrants routinely complained they were forced to line up in the predawn hours and stand virtually all day without shelter or access to restrooms and water fountains. (ICE later claimed immigrants were allowed to use restrooms inside.) Parking is inadequate, but videos also show that tow trucks regularly circle the lot to pick up cars parked illegally. Worst of all, activists say ICE conducts "silent raids" at the facility — immigrants arrive for standard, scheduled check-ins but sometimes are detained inside the building and deported without warning.
Since immigrant rights groups have lodged their complaints, ICE has added additional tents for people waiting in line. But images from the facility also show that the lines have swelled to gargantuan proportions. In March, an ICE spokesperson told New Times this was somehow due to the influx of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.