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Statement from Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Ken Russell

(Miami, FL February 15, 2017) - City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Ken Russell are calling on the Miami-Dade County Commission to re-affirm its commitment to protecting our region's most vulnerable populations, in particular undocumented immigrants. In doing so, the Mayor and Commissioner would like to reiterate that the City of Miami remains open to immigrants from all over the world, and is committed to welcoming those seeking freedom, opportunity and democracy.

In furtherance of that welcoming spirit, Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Russell will be working with the Cities for Citizenship initiative to provide space in the City where workshops will be conducted to help legal residents become citizens.

"The City of Miami has a long-standing policy of treating all people that interact with our public officials and officers equitably, no matter that person's immigration status," said Mayor Tomas Regalado.

In particular, the Miami Police Department has internal policies that require all persons that come into contact with our officers be treated with respect and dignity regardless of their residency and citizenship situation. The Department does not release persons to federal immigration officials if a person is a crime victim, material witness, involved in a domestic matter, suspected of a minor offense, or seeking medical attention.

"Immigrants from abroad, including my own mother, built this City," Commissioner Russell said. "Miami is an immigrant City and we should embrace that identity. Policies that make people who are here for a better life fearful of our law enforcement is not only bad for them and dangerous to our officers, but also turns our back on basic American values."

"Fostering unity and respect for all our communities is vital to our City's mission," stated Commissioner Russell. " While a large portion of our City's residents were born elsewhere, our common future vision of a thriving Miami is what keeps us united. No law, statute, ordinance, executive order, policy, memorandum or edict should be allowed to divide us."

Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Russell are hopeful their statements, as well as the partnership with Cities for Citizenship, will help cut through some of the more unflattering rhetoric about immigrants that is currently circulating through the political system.

Florida has the third largest immigrant population in the nation, with 3.8 million immigrants calling the Sunshine State home. About 830,000 of those are legal permanent residents that could fully realize the dream of citizenship. A staggering 494,000 of these reside in Miami-Dade, representing 19% of the County's population. Unfortunately, more than half of these have not pursued citizenship due to communication barriers and limited financial resources to pay the $725 application fee, as well as possible attorneys' fees. Others simply do not feel empowered to embark on the complex and oftentimes intimidating naturalization process.

The partnership with Cities for Citizenship will provide ways for legal residents to overcome those barriers.

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