Immigration Clinic Honored for Suit Against Anti-Sanctuary City Law

Picture of Amelia Daynes, 3L

Amelia Daynes, 3L

Last week, WeCount!, the Homestead-based organization committed to building the power of the local immigrant community in Homestead, Florida, through education, support, and collective action, honored Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic for its work litigating against anti-sanctuary city policies and laws at its annual gala.

“We are honored to be recognized by such an important organization and to work in partnership with WeCount!,” said Rebecca Sharpless, director of the clinic. “In these times of anti-immigrant laws and policies, it is critical that lawyers and organizers work together and leverage both the law and politics to approach challenges.”

Established in the fall of 2009, Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic provides a challenging opportunity for students to advocate on behalf of immigrants in a wide variety of complex immigration proceedings. In addition to helping individual clients, students collaborate with other immigrant rights groups on projects that reform the law and advance the cause of social justice for immigrants.

The clinic is dedicated to being an integral part of the wider immigrant and human rights advocacy community in South Florida and the nation and works on a variety of cases, such as filing a lawsuit halting the deportation of Somali immigrants after a botched Immigration and Customs Enforcement flight.

In the anti-sanctuary case, filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, the clinic sought an injunction stopping any further implementation of the law. The suit argued that several sections of the law are unconstitutionally vague, preempted by federal law, and violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“SB 168 unlawfully conscripts local public officials to enforce federal immigration law and further marginalizes already vulnerable immigrant communities,” said Amelia Daynes, a third-year student and student fellow at the clinic who is working on the case. “The law discourages members of immigrant communities, regardless of their status, from interacting with local government officials, even if it means forgoing emergency medical care or leaving crimes unreported. The law makes us all less safe.”

WeCount represents and defends the rights of immigrants, students, and working people of the area. WeCount!’s members are Latino/a, Mayan, and Haitian immigrant workers, working families, and youth. Their members are retirees, and those working in plant nurseries and farms, landscaping, construction, tourism, housekeeping, and industrial shops. They include families and recent immigrants separated from their families in their home countries.

WeCount! works to achieve social and economic justice by bringing multi-ethnic immigrants, students, and working people together to inform themselves about their rights, support each other, develop their leadership, and take action to improve their lives.

"In these times when the Trump administration is demonizing immigrants in rhetoric and policy, trying to cut off all legal paths for asylees and immigrants, it is so important to challenge their actions in court," said Jonathan Fried, Executive Director of WeCount!. "We are grateful for the work of the Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami Law School and the other honorees, standing with immigrants by taking up this challenge."

More on Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic