Many Florida immigrants and their families live in fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will show up unannounced and take one or more of their family members away. Those who are living in the United States who have criminal records (even if they fulfilled their sentences) are reportedly among those at greatest risk for arrest and deportation. A man in another state was recently listed as eligible for immediate removal following an incident that resulted in a police officer's death. The situation has ignited contentious debate regarding U.S. immigration law, in particular, sanctuary issues.
ICE officials say the man in question had never been on their radar until he was accused of killing a police officer. U.S. government officials are apparently blaming sanctuary laws in the state where the man was arrested, claiming local police failed to inform them of the man's resident status and multiple arrests for drunk driving. A sheriff also said he believes the man is involved in a gang.
The police officer who died also happened to have been an immigrant. After his death, police set out on a manhunt that lasted two days and ultimately resulted in the defendant's arrest. At least seven people were accused of helping the man evade arrest, several of whom have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
U.S. immigration law and criminal justice issues often intersect. However, a personal background that includes emigrating from another country of origin is no automatic cause for being a suspect in criminal-related situations. Any man or woman charged with a crime in Florida or other states is typically entitled to the same rights of due process as those afforded to U.S. citizens.